There were celebrations in Barcelona after pro-independence parties won an absolute majority of seats in Catalonia’s 135-strong regional parliament.
With more than 90% of votes counted the main secessionist group “Together for Yes” were set to win 62 seats, while the communist pro-independence CUP will have another 10.
The separatists have opened up a significant gap between themselves and pro-unity parties. Second place “Citizens” are on course for 25 seats while Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s Popular Party is trailing with 11.
The separatists have vowed to declare independence unilaterally within 18 months – something which the central government in Madrid says it will block
While secession remains highly hypothetical, the strong pro-independence showing is a blow for Rajoy less than three months before nationwide elections.