Catalans vote for regional govt, test the separatists’ power

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — The strength of the separatist movement in Spain’s northeastern region of Catalonia is being tested as 5.3 million voters cast ballots in a regional election. Spain’s former Health Minister Salvador Illa is leading the ticket of the Socialist Party of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez. Illa is hoping his handling of the coronavirus crisis will boost the Socialists’ chances of ending the decade-long hold on local power by pro-independence lawmakers. Polls, however, predict a tight race between the Socialists and the two leading pro-secession parties. The vote is being held under tight coronavirus restrictions. Vulnerable voters were asked to cast ballots early, while those infected or under quarantine were told to vote late in the day.