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The most anomalous campaign of any of the elections every held in Catalonia or Spain ended at midnight Wednesday morning. It's also the most irregular: two candidates have taken part from disadvantaged positions, since one is exiled in Brussels (Puigdemont) and another is in Estremera prison (Junqueras). Despite everything, prison, exile, termination of the Catalan ministers, suspension of the Catalan government, legal proceedings, decapitation of parties and pro-independence entities, hundreds of mayors threatened by the state, the 1st October police violence and so many other things, the pro-independence side has resisted with a resilience unimaginable when prime minister Mariano Rajoy on 27th October called the 21st December election to the applause of his supporters and the conviction that now had indeed arrived the time to eliminate their enemy, more than their adversary.

Politically speaking, it's obvious that the regional elections that Rajoy called after dispatching with Catalan autonomy and dismissing the government has become, a few weeks later, the referendum he didn't want. Or what is it if not a victory or defeat of the pro-independence parties? If on election night, Junts per Catalunya, Esquerra Republicana and CUP together get 68 deputies or more, the Spanish political crisis will be served. The wave of pro-independence votes will have achieved a titanic objective: to stand strong against an attempt to humiliate them with shades of authoritarianism and with a deafening complicit silence of partners who seemed unthinkable. Otherwise, the pro-independence side will have to not only rethink its strategy, but also its timetable, its objectives and, who knows, maybe some leaders.

In the penultimate lap before the final, definitive one, it can be said that the independence side's chances to reach its objective are high if it maintains it speed and momentum in the final metres. But, for the first time in years, they aren't running alone and everything has been prepared for them to not be able to raise their arms at the finishing line. The decision will, in just a few hours, be in the hands of more than 5.5 million Catalan voters.

Moreover, it's not just who will be president of Catalonia for the next four years which is at stake, but the future of Catalan nationalism as a vehicle of progress as it has been throughout modern history. Bear in mind these four factors for Thursday when evaluating successes and failures: first, whether or not there is a pro-independence majority in the Parliament; second, whether the percentage of pro-independence voters has beaten the spectacular record of 47.8% in 2015; third, which party has won the elections and fourth, whether Rajoy's PP is the party with the least representation in the new Catalan chamber. Based on the answers to these questions we'll know how politics in Catalonia will unravel in the next four years.

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