By Alyssa McMurtry
Catalan separatists will lose their majority in upcoming regional elections, leaving the polarized region with a hung parliament, according to final polls published before the vote.
Polls published on Friday in Spanish newspapers El Pais and La Razon and another on the La Sexta television network all suggest that both the unionist parties and the separatist bloc will fall short of winning the 68 seats needed to form a government in the 135-seat parliament.
In the last elections in 2015, separatist parties won 72 seats but did not win the popular vote.
The surveys also predict a relatively high turnout of more than 80 percent for the Dec. 21 elections, which come under abnormal and unprecedented circumstances.
The snap elections were triggered by the Spanish central government, which took over direct control of the wealthy northeastern region after its government had committed to breaking away from Spain to form an independent republic.
Carles Puigdemont, the former regional president who relocated to Brussels after declaring independence in the Catalan parliament, is a leading candidate. He has campaigned from Brussels and is to be arrested upon return to Spain. Other candidates for separatist parties are campaigning from behind bars, as they are being held on remand over major charges such as sedition and rebellion.
Friday is the final day polls are allowed to be published before next Thursday’s ballot.