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  By a Newsnet reporter

Today sees historic elections in Catalonia.  The campaign has been dominated by the independence referendum.  Newsnet Scotland will cover the outcome of the election, but today we present a brief who's who to guide you through the election coverage. 

Results of the election are expected to begin to come through around midnight.  Below is a list of the main parties contesting the election, and their stance on the referendum and possible Catalan independence.


 

CiU: Convèrgencia i Unió
Centre-right, pro-referendum, pro-independence
Seats in outgoing parliament: 62
Party leader: Artur Mas
Election slogan:  La voluntat dun poble 'the will of a people'

The ruling party in the outgoing Catalan Parliament and the largest party by a long chalk, the CiU called early elections after coming out in favour of a referendum for independence in the wake of the massive demonstration of 1.5 million Catalans in Barcelona on September 11.  The CiU hopes to obtain an absolute majority in the 135 seat parliament, but opinion polls suggest that it may struggle to reach the magic number of 68 although it will certainly retain its position as the largest single party.  Party leader Artur Mas is considered a strong performer, and perhaps the party's strongest asset.



PSC: Partit dels Socialistes de Catalunya
Centre-left, equivocal on referendum, anti-independence
Seats in outgoing parliament:  28
Party leader: Pere Navarro i Morera
Election slogan:  Federalisme, l'alternativa sensata 'Federalism, the sensible alternative'

The Catalan affiliates of the PSOE, broadly equivalent to the Labour party in the UK, the PSC has fought a confused, and confusing campaign, having apparently been caught on the back foot by the proposed independence referendum.  Some members of the party have declared they are in favour of the referendum, others remain opposed.  It is unclear how the party will vote when the referendum bill is presented before the new Catalan legislature.  Opinion polls suggest the party is in for a drubbing during today's elections, and it may end up with fewer than 20 deputies in the new parliament, which observers of Catalan politics describe as a potential disaster for the party.  They are likely to lose their position as the second largest party in Catalunya, and may even be relegated to fourth place.



PP: Partido Popular
Centre-right, anti-referendum, anti-independence
Seats in outgoing parliament: 18
Party leader: Alicia Sánchez Camacho
Election slogan:  Sí Catalunya, España también 'Yes Catalonia, Spain as well'

The PP has fought the campaign almost entirely on the platform of "Españolism" and scaremongering, with dire warnings about what would befall Catalonia should it hold an independence referendum, and even worse if the country votes yes.  The party hopes to sweep up the votes of those opposed to independence, although traditionally the PP has been weak in Catalonia and it faces competition from the equally anti-independence Ciutadans.  The interventions of the PP run Madrid government have caused many Catalans to reject the party, nevertheless it hopes to secure a place as the second largest party in the new parliament.



ICV-EUA: Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds-Esquerra Unida i Alternativa

Left green alliance, pro-referendum, pro-independence
Seats in outgoing parliament: 10
Party leader: Joan Herrera
Election slogan: i tant si podem! 'So we can!'

An alliance between the Catalan Greens and the United and Alternative Left, the ICV-EUA is stongly opposed to the economic and social policies of the ruling CiU, but shares its belief in the right of the Catalan people to hold a referendum and supports independence.  The party hopes to capitalise on the votes of independence supporters who oppose the CiU's centre-right policies and is in fierce competition with the PP, the PSC and the ERC for the position of the second largest party in the new legislature.



ERC: Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya
Left, pro-referendum, pro-independence
Seats in outgoing parliament: 10
Party leader: Oriol Junqueras
Election slogan: Un nou país per a tothom 'A new country for everyone'

Many opinion polls suggest that the ERC is on course to become the second largest party in the new parliament, having positioned itself as the first choice for many on the left who are in favour of independence but who are opposed to the CiU's economic policies and are not enamoured with the green message of the ICV-EUA.  If the party does manage to overtake the PSC as the second largest party in the new parliament, it would prove a historic victory, securing the ERC's place as the leading leftist party in Catalonia and marginalising the PSC.



SI: Solidaritat Catalana per la indepèndencia
Broad coalition of pro-independence groups
Seats in outgoing parliament: 3
Party leader: Alfons López Tena
Election slogan: Som garantia d'indepèndencia 'We are the guarantee of independence'

Founded in 2010 as an alliance between various civic groups, grassroots movements and smaller parties who organised the unofficial independence referendums of 2009, SI is perhaps the dark horse of this election campaign.  The party is fighting to take votes from all the other pro-independence parties, and hopes to substantially increase its representation in the new parliament.  Recent opinion polls have not shown the party to make any great impact so far, but it is likely to maintain its position, and may yet confound the pollsters.



C's: Ciutadans
Centre-left, anti-referendum, anti-independence
Seats in outgoing parliament: 3
Party leader: Albert Rivera
Election slogan: Mejor unidos 'Better together'

Founded in 2006 and organising mainly in opposition to the language policies of the Catalan government, Ciutadans is strongly opposed to Catalan independence.  It supports strengthening the powers of the Spanish central institutions and curtailing the powers of regional administrations.  The party's main power base lies amongst Catalunya's Spanish speaking population.  The party hopes to pick up votes amongst those opposed to independence, but who are equally opposed to the austerity agenda of the Partido Popular.  Opinion polls suggest it may make moderate gains, largely at the expense of the PSC.



CUP: Candidatures d'Unitat Popular
Left, pro-referendum, pro-independence
Seats in outgoing parliament: 0
Party leader: David Fernàndez
Election slogan: És l'hora del poble 'It is the hour of the people'

Made up of autonomous local assemblies representing towns or neighbourhoods, the CUP is fighting the parliamentary elections for the first time.  Despite being marginalised and almost ignored by the mainstream media, opinion polls suggest that the CUP is on course to return between 2 and 5 deputies to the new parliament.  The party is expected to do well in the Catalan capital of Barcelona.

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