By Jason Moore
A party who has placed immigration at the top of their policies looks set to win the Catalan elections tomorrow and deliver some respite for Prime Minister Rodriguez Zapatero. Polls say that Convergencia i Unio (CiU), a right-leaning moderate nationalist party, should win the most number of seats in the Barcelona parliament to take power. But in a clear sign of the times more home-rule from Madrid has not been the key issue. It has been immigration with the nationalists launching an aggressive campaign calling for immigrants' access to social services and public housing to be restricted unless they show evidence of having learnt the local Catalan language and adopted Catalan ways. Immigration is set to be one of the key issues when the remaining Spanish provinces go to the polls in next year's local elections. If the nationalists win it will be good news for Zapatero because his socialists are expected to form a coalition with them to govern. However, the nationalists' tough stance on immigration will not be welcomed too much in the corridors of power in Madrid. If other provinces in Spain choose to adopt similar immigration policies as Cataluña then Zapatero may have to change his immigration policy. Opposition parties have criticised the Spanish government for not doing enough to halt immigration from North Africa and South America.

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