Catalan separatists take to the streets ahead of referendum

Lucy Bush
October 1, 2017

Supporters of an independence referendum in Catalonia opposed by Madrid occupied would-be polling stations on Friday in a bid to ensure the vote goes ahead, as thousands gathered in Barcelona for the separatist camp's closing campaign.

Jordi Turull, the Catalan executive's spokesman, said Friday in Barcelona that nearly 7,000 volunteers are ready to open 2,315 polling stations across the region of 7.5 million people.

With less than 36 hours until polls are due to open in the Catalan independence referendum on Sunday, neither the Spanish government, nor the Catalan regional authority shows any signs of backing down from their postures.

Dr James Summers is a Professor of International Law at Lancaster University.

Dozens of supporters of Catalan independence spent the night in schools and other polling places in an effort to keep them open until voting begins Sunday at 9 a.m. (0700 UTC).

Spain's constitutional court has ruled that the vote is illegal and the government says the process makes a mockery of democracy.

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"I insist: there will be no referendum on October 1st", government spokesperson Inigo Mendez de Vigo said on Friday during a press conference following the weekly cabinet meeting.

Pressure for a vote on self-determination has grown over the past five years but in the 2015 regional election, won by an alliance of pro-independence parties, about 40% of voters backed parties loyal to Spain.

"We will vote!" and "Independence!" the protesters shouted as they marched along the Gran Via, one of Barcelona's main avenues, on Thursday.

Officers have also been seizing items such as ballot papers, while prosecutors have ordered the closure of websites linked to the vote and the arrest of officials organising the referendum. "Spain is a member of the EU, so the European Commission can no longer argue that it is an internal affair", Romeva said.

Alongside the hidden ballots are thousands of plastic tubs, marked with the Catalan regional government's emblem, with numbered, red strips normally used to the secure the ballots after they are dropped in the boxes.

The previous leader of the Spanish province, Artur Mas, organized a non-binding referendum in 2014, with about 80 percent voting for secession from Spain.

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"We feel occupied by the Spanish police", 56-year-old interior designer Nuria Gimenez said.

There are just two days left until an independence referendum in Catalonia.

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He said Catalan authorities have no bones of contention with the National Police and Civil Guard, which have enacted some controversial central government measures to prevent the vote.

Enric Millo, the central government representative in Catalonia, told reporters 1,300 polling stations had already been sealed off.

Assemblea Pagesa's Twitter feed and other social media sites posted photographs of tractors "defending" polling stations in towns across Catalonia.

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"Today we won against the fear and threats, we won against the pressure, the lies and the intimidation, we won against an authoritarian government who didn't want us to get to this point", said the leader.

Other reports by Info About Network

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