Spain's FM calls Catalan referendum a mockery of democracy
01 October, 2017, 00:51 | Author: Gary Shelton
The referendum for Catalan independence is set to take place on Sunday, Oct. 1. In the Spanish capital of Madrid, thousands marched to protest the separatists' attempt to break up their nation, demanding that Catalan leaders be sent to jail.
Spain's central government has issued stern warnings against the referendum, which the country's highest court has barred as unconstitutional.
Should the vote take place, a "yes" vote is likely, given that most of the 40 per cent of Catalans who polls show support independence are expected to cast ballots, while most of those against it are not.
Bands played at a closing rally for the referendum campaign in Barcelona where people constructed the slogan "Referendum is democracy" in big white letters on a stage in front of a cheering crowd, many draped in the red-and-yellow Catalan flag. Citing a report from the Spanish chapter of the group Reporters Without Borders, the news site said journalists were being harassed by both federal law enforcement and pro-independence officials.
Photo Parents gathered on Friday at the Miquel Tarradell school in Barcelona, a polling station, to oppose efforts to prevent voting.
Millo said anyone remaining in schools after 6am will need to be removed in line with a judge's orders, but predicts there won't be significant problems.
Previous opinion polls show that Catalonia's independence is supported by 41 percent of its residents, with 49 percent against it, and while as much as 80 percent of Catalans are in favor of the referendum, majority believe that the vote should be agreed upon with the central government in Madrid. Ahead of the vote, 14 Catalan government officials were arrested, police raided headquarters looking for ballots and ballot boxes and referendum websites were blocked.
The head of the Catalan regional police ordered officers to evacuate and close polling stations by 6 a.m. on Sunday, before the voting is due to open at 9 a.m.
Officers are in a room at the Center of Telecommunication and Information Technologies, according to a statement from a regional government official.
Enric Millo, the central government representative in Catalonia, said earlier Saturday that 163 of the polling stations were already occupied when they were sealed off.
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The situation in Sortidor square was similar to the one in Collaso I Gil school in Barcelona, whose entrance was decorated with a poster that read "Defend this voting station".
Catalonia in the northwest of Spain is home to 7.5million residents and the country's second city, Barcelona.
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Jordi Sanchez, president of the Catalan National Assembly, told reporters that police actions in Catalonia may make a large turnout hard.
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