‘The Election Day started without any remarkable incident’ stated the Catalan Minister for Public Administration, Meritxell Borràs and added that the queues at some polling stations were due to ‘the interest that this elections have awaken’. 5,510,798 people are entitled to vote in Catalonia, 4,124,321 of which will do so in Barcelona region, 800,962 in Tarragona, 756,156 in Girona and 438,000 in Lleida. 2,681 polling stations have been set up around Catalonia for the 27-S elections, which have an exceptional nature and are set to be a ‘de facto’ plebiscite for Catalans to decide their political future. For this reason, several parties have put aside their ideological differences in order to reduce the elections to the single issue of independence.

Catalonia’s residents will be able to exercise their right to vote all day, from 9am until 8pm. There will be 2,697 polling stations all along the territory, more than a half, 1,607 in Barcelona’s region.

A total of 5,314,736 people are registered to vote in Catalonia, with 3,972,775 registered in the region of Barcelona, 495,557 in Girona, 299,113 in Lleida and 547,291 in Tarragona, and the number of parliamentarians per province being 85, 17, 15 and 18 respectively. 

A total of 947 towns will participate in the 27-S elections, with 2,681 polling stations being set up throughout Catalonia. 1,593 will be located in the region of Barcelona, 399 in Girona, 318 in Lleida and 371 in Tarragona.            

There are 196,062 registered voters abroad and they have been able to vote either by post before the 22nd of September or through a ballot box at the Consular Registry in their country of residence between the 23rd and 25th of September.

For additional information, voters can visit the Catalan Parliament website where services such as requesting an accompaniment service or adapted transport to the nearest polling station are available.

Coalitions and Unitary lists

The number of lists running for the 27-S Catalan elections is lower than the last time around in 2012; dropping from 79 candidacies to the 40 lists running this year. Moreover, there are many new candidacies that have been designed for the occasion according to the historic nature of the elections that will function as a ‘de facto’ plebiscite on independence. For the first time ever, new coalitions have been made and civil society organisations, such as the grass-roots pro-independence Catalan National Assembly (ANC), the non-profit association promoting Catalan language and culture Òmnium Cultural and the pro-independence association of Spanish speakers, ‘Súmate’, have entered the fray.

One of the unique characteristics of the 27-S elections is that many parties, institutions and organisations have emphasised their plebiscitary nature. To reinforce this point, several of Catalonia’s traditional parties – such as the liberal party CDC, which currently runs the Catalan Government – called for the creation of unitary lists.

‘Junts pel Sí’, the pro-independence unitary list made up by Liberal party Convergència (CDC), left-wing pro-independence Esquerra Republicana (ERC) and the main civic organisations supporting independence, the Catalan National Assembly and Òmnium Cultural, currently heads the polls which would result in the current President of the Generalitat, Artur Mas, being re-elected.

Liberal party Convergència (CDC), left-wing pro-independence Esquerra Republicana (ERC) and the main civic organisations supporting independence, the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Òmnium Cultural have come together to form the ‘Junts pel Sí’ (‘Together for Yes’) electoral list headed by Raül Romeva. The aim of the candidacy is to put ideological differences to one side and reduce the elections to the single issue of independence. In the case of a pro-independence victory, a secessionist process would begin, after which constituent elections would be held with the parties standing on their own.

Another example of a joint effort can be seen in ‘Catalunya Sí que es Pot’, (‘Catalonia yes we can’). Alternative left-wing Podemos has joined forces with the Catalan Green Socialist and post-Communist coalition ICV- EUiA to provide a coalition headed by Lluís Rabell. ‘Catalunya Sí que es Pot’ is presenting itself as a left-wing alternative to the ‘Junts pel Sí’ coalition and sees the 27-S elections as a struggle between the established political powers – who they blame for budget cuts – and the working class rather than a referendum on sovereignty. The left-wing coalition favours a referendum on Catalonia’s independence agreed with the Spanish government as well as the Catalan people’s right to decide on their own economic and social model. 

Not just a pro- independence turnout

Turnout will decide the outcome of the elections this Sunday. Political analysts say the independence camp can count on the support of about 1.8m Catalans, most of whom are highly motivated and will vote under almost any circumstances. As such,the turnout of Catalans who are against independence has also been encouraged and is likely to increase with people casting their ballot for Spanish nationalist parties, in particular the ruling conservative People’s Party (PP) and the anti-Catalan nationalist party Ciutadans (C’s).

Despite the independence debate, many citizens will also vote while thinking about the budget cuts and the current economic crisis. Left-wing parties such as coalition ‘Catalunya Sí que es Pot’, made up ofSpanish alternative left party Podemos and Catalan Green Socialist and post-Communist coalition ICV- EUiA, have tried to make the main focus of the elections also about austerity measures and economic growth, although it has clearly been overshadowed by the self-determination process.