BARCELONA (AFP) - Separatists pushing to make Catalonia independent from Spain were on track to win an absolute majority of parliamentary seats in a regional election on Sunday (Sept 27), an exit poll showed.
A poll released by Catalan television channel TV3 gave pro-independence parties between 74 and 79 seats out of a total 135.
TV3 said pro-independence parties had won 49.8 per cent of the vote.
Jubilant crowds cheered at a rally in Barcelona by Together For Yes, the main pro-independence alliance, yelling "Independence!" The head of the group's campaign Francesc Homs said the exit poll pointed to a clear victory for the separatist movement.
"The available data give the impression that this pro-sovereignty majority, clearly in favour of independence, is a fact," he told the crowd.
They waved nationalist flags of red and yellow stripes overlaid with a white star on a blue triangle.
The drive to break the rich north-eastern region away from Spain and create a new state in Europe has prompted a fierce stand-off with the Spanish government.
Regional president Artur Mas's separatist alliance vowed to declare independence by 2017 if it secured an absolute majority in the Parliament.
Officials said turnout was 63 per cent two hours before polls closed - nearly seven per cent higher than in the last regional election in 2012.
A separate poll carried out for radio station COPE before the vote and published just after polling closed gave the separatist parties - Mas's alliance and the left-wing independence group CUP - between 71 and 76 overall.