CATALONIA

Catalan political parties officially kicked off their campaign for a December 21 regional election on Tuesday, with separatist candidates either in exile or in jail and polls pointing to a tight race.

The first rallies were held with Catalonia’s sacked vice president Oriol Junqueras and three other separatist leaders still in prison after a Supreme Court judge on Monday turned down their request to be freed while they are investigated over their role in the wealthy northeastern region’s independence drive.

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont meanwhile campaigned by video conference from Belgium, where he escaped to after his region’s parliament declared independence on October 27, claiming he would not get a fair trial at home.

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