A snap election began in Catalonia on Thursday morning for the 135 seats in the Catalan Parliament. Polling stations opened at 9 am local time (1.30 pm Indian Standard Time) and will close at 8 pm local time (12.30 am IST), the regional government-owned news agency Catalan News reported.

A turnout of 34.6% was recorded till 1 pm. This is slightly lower than the 35.1% recorded till 1 pm during the 2015 elections, Catalan News reported, adding that it expected a final turnout of around 80%.

Around 55 lakh people are eligible to vote. The results are expected on Thursday night.

The Spanish government led by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy had called the election on October 30 after it rejected the Catalan declaration of independence. The Spanish government also dissolved the Catalan government, dismissed its leaders and initiated legal proceedings against them.

Deposed Catalan President Carles Puigdemont fled to Belgium after Spain dismissed his regional government. However, the Mariano Rajoy government said he could participate in the elections.

An opinion poll which Spanish daily El Pais conducted on December 19 showed that Puigdemont’s party, JxCat, would finish third in the elections with 23 to 32 seats. The pro-independence Republican Left of Catalonia is expected to finish as the largest party, followed by Ciudadanos, which wants unity with Spain. However, no party will secure a majority, the poll said.