IN PICS AND VIDEO: Spain goes to the polls

Spain voted Sunday in an uncertain snap general election marked by a resurgence of the far-right after more than four decades on the outer margins of politics.

IN PICS AND VIDEO: Spain goes to the polls
Voters pick their ballots at a polling station set up at the Central University of Barcelona. Photo: Lluis Gene/AFP
Polls opened at 9am and will close at 8pm. The complete election results will be announced shortly thereafter and The Local Spain will provide updates throughout the evening. 
Until then, here was the scene on Sunday as Spaniards took part in their third general election in just three and a half years.
Citizens cast votes in Madrid: 
Spain's socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez casts his vote early on Sunday:

Spanish far-right party Vox leader and candidate for prime minister Santiago Abascal casts his ballot at a polling station in Madrid:
Leader of the centre-right Ciudadanos Albert Rivera casts his vote near Barcelona: 
Spanish far-left Podemos party leader and far-left “Unidas Podemos” coalition's candidate for prime minister Pablo Iglesias casts his ballot at a polling station in Madrid:
Voters pick their ballots at the Central University of Barcelona: 
Catch up on all of The Local's election coverage here

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Madrid puts off separatist talks over Catalan snap election

Spain's central government on Thursday said the announcement of snap elections in Catalonia would delay planned talks between Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and the region's separatist leadership.

Madrid puts off separatist talks over Catalan snap election
Catalan regional president Quim Torra (R) meets with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez at the Palacio de Pedralbes in Barcelona on December 20, 2018.Photo: AFP

News that the regional election would be brought forward was announced by regional president Quim Torra on Wednesday but he did not give a date, suggesting some time after mid-March.

The date was brought forward following a major dispute between Catalonia's two ruling separatist parties, Together for Catalonia (JxC) and the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC).

The announcement came ahead of a key February 6 meeting in Barcelona between Torra and Spain's Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to lay the ground for talks on resolving the separatist conflict.

In response, Sanchez's office said the meeting would go ahead but that the negotiations would not begin until a new regional government was in place.   

“The government is hoping to be able to begin the dialogue after the Catalan people have spoken… as soon as the elections are over and there is a new (regional) government, then we will begin talking,” said a statement.

“The government remains willing to start the process of dialogue with the Catalan institutions to resolve the political conflict.”

The talks had been agreed as part of a deal with ERC in exchange for its support in getting Sanchez through a key investiture vote earlier this month.   

But the delay was swiftly denounced by the ERC as a “flagrant breach of the agreement which was completely irresponsible,” its party spokesman Sergi Sabria said.

Sanchez, who himself is in a fragile position at the head of a minority coalition government, still needs ERC's support to pass Spain's own much delayed national budget.

In a radio interview Thursday, Torra said he would bring up the right to self-determination and amnesty for the nine jailed Catalan separatist leaders when he meets Sanchez — both of which have already been rejected out of hand by the Socialist leader.