TENSIONS are running high in Catalonia today ahead of Thursday’s elections when a record turn-out of voters is expected.

Currently two pro-independence parties and one unionist party are in with a shot of winning the Catalan Parliament election, according to a new poll published by The National.

However, even if the pro-independence bloc wins, political experts predict that forming a government will prove to be “very complex”.

An absolute majority in the Catalan Parliament requires 68 seats – the chamber has 135 representatives.

The second tracking poll gives the pro-independence parties – ERC, JuntsxCat and CUP – a total of 67-70 seats and 48.22 per cent of the votes.

By contrast, the unionist parties will not win an absolute majority under any scenario. The unionist block of Cs, PSC and PP will obtain 57-59 MPs and 44.04 per cent of the vote.

Many of the pro-independence leaders are either in exile or have been put in jail by the authoritarian Spanish Government which mounted a crackdown after the Catalan Government held an independence referendum in October.

Voters were intimidated and assaulted by Spanish police, with the backing of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. He sacked the Catalan Government, jailed officials and announced that an election for a new Parliament would be held on December 21. He has refused to allow independent observers to monitor the elections, causing further outrage.

Ousted Catalan president Carles Puigdemont flew to Belgium to put his case to EU leaders but decided to remain there after his deputy, Oriol Junqueras, was jailed pending an investigation into charges of sedition, rebellion, and the misuse of public funds.

Puigdemont has since been forced to campaign from Brussels using social media. Earlier this month 45,000 supporters travelled to

the city to demonstrate their support.

He says the elections are the “second round” of the independence referendum held on October 1 when 90 per cent of a 43 per cent turn-out voted to break from Spain.

Junqueras, meanwhile, remains behind bars but is still chief candidate for his Republican

Left of Catalonia (ERC) party.

The elections could lead to a surreal situation where a jailed or exiled Catalan leader could be sworn in as president.

“Forming a government will be very complex, even if the pro-independence bloc wins the election,” said political analyst

Pablo Simon.

The voter turnout predicted at the Catalan election is set to hit a historic high. Yesterday's poll puts it at an estimated 82.95 per cent. The 2015 election turnout, the current record, was 74.95 per cent.

Cs are set to win 32-33 seats, ERC 30-31 seats, and JuntsxCat 27-29 seats. Further back, the PSC is on course to win 19-20 seats, the CUP 10 seats, and Catalunya En Comú-Podem eight to nine seats. PP are expected to return only six representatives.