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Election day 2017 has got off to a normal start at the 2,680 polling stations where voting will take place to elect the new Parliament of Catalonia.

A total of 5,554,394 people are called upon to participate in the elections to be held this Thursday. Requests from overseas voters are up 81.53%, while postal voting within the country is down 26.6% on the 2015 elections.

21/12/2017 11:12

The 2,680 polling stations where Catalans will be able to exercise their right to vote in the 2017 elections for the Parliament of Catalonia opened their doors punctually and with complete normality at 9:00 a.m. and "without any significant incidents". This was explained by the Spanish Interior Ministry's technical secretary, Juan Antonio Puigserver, representing the Home Affairs Ministry of the Catalan Government, at the first appearance by a spokesperson for the Information Broadcasting Centre on election day. "Catalans have been exercising their right to vote for the last hour and with complete normality and will have until 8.00 pm tonight," said Puigserver.

A total of 5,554,394 people will be able to vote in the elections taking place this Thursday, according to data from the Spanish National Institute of Statistics (INE), 0.79% more than in the elections of 27 September 2015. 226,381 of these are registered in the Census of Residents Abroad (CERA) and a total of 136,444 will be able to vote for the first time in these elections, having turned 18.

During his speech, the secretary highlighted the increase in the number of applications to vote from abroad that rose from 21,771 to 39,521, a rise of 81.52%. Postal votes from within Spain, on the other hand, dropped by 26.6% compared to 2015, with a total of 78,876 accepted applications versus 107,421 two years ago.

The secretary also wanted to thank the "great job" being done by almost 17,000 agents from the law enforcement agencies -- Mossos d'Esquadra (Catalan police), national police, Civil Guard, local police and security guards -- "who will ensure that the whole of election day passes off with normality."

The first participation figures will be released at 1:45 p.m.

There will be another press conference to offer the first participation figures up to 1.00 pm, which is scheduled for 1.45 pm.

Election day can be tracked in real time and for free through mobiles or tablets via the 21D Election App or the website resultats.parlament2017.cat.