The Spanish government of Mariano Rajoy was hoping that the elections in Catalonia next week would effectively end the worst political crisis in Spain since the introduction of democracy. But things are not going to plan. The lastest opinion poll says that unionists and parties that favour independence would effectively split the vote. Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont is campaigning from Brussels, where he moved shortly after he was fired by Madrid following a unilateral declaration of independence by the region.The survey’s inconclusive split between pro-unity and pro-independence parties would leave the regional offshoot of left-wing party Podemos, which supports unity but wants a referendum on independence, as potential kingmaker. Further muddying the waters, its leader Xavier Domenech favours a left-wing alliance across parties that both back and reject independence.

For the Spanish government the poll's forecast is a nightmare and if the findings are repeated at the ballot box then Rajoy will almost be back to square one. The only good news for the Spanish government is that there is no way that the pro-independence parties can form a coalition similar to the one which governed in Catalonia before it was sacked by the Spanish government. The only way forward is for Rajoy to sit down with the pro-independence parties and try and reach an accord. Unfortunately, this is never going to happen.