Spain Minister brands Catalonia independence referendum 'mockery of democracy'

Posted September 30, 2017

Speaking from a central Barcelona school, where adults and children slept in sleeping bags on gym mats, a separatist supporter who identified herself only as Giselle said: "We slept and waited for them (police) so that they would not try to evict us or tell us what they wanted".

The official made the remark on Saturday, without providing further details as to how the police would remove people, Reuters reported.

"I'm asking the Catalan president to call off the referendum, because if it happens he likely end in a situation in which he will have to appear before a judge", Millo said.

The regional government's telecommunications centre has also been occupied by police.

"Everything is prepared at the more than 2,000 voting points so they have ballot boxes and voting slips, and have everything people need to express their opinion", Mr Puigdemont said.

Spain's central government and Catalan authorities agree on devolving more powers to the northeastern region, including finance, health care and education.

That Catalan superior court on Friday ordered Google to "eliminate from the Google Play service" an app created to help Catalans know where to vote.

The banter is good-natured, even when some people tell him they're not sure how they will vote or say they are reluctant to back independence for Catalonia, a region with its own language and cultural traditions.

"We are witnessing the worst democratic regression since the death of Franco", Mr. Puigdemont said in an interview, referring to the dictator, General Francisco Franco, whose death in 1975 opened the way for Spanish democracy.

He accused the Catalan government of trying to promote an exclusionary system which runs counter to the goals and ideals the European Union is trying to advance.

Catalans have begun to occupy polling places, challenging security forces to kick them out.

Extra police have been transferred to Catalonia from other parts of Spain, and the government has warned that they will close down polling stations.

Authorities in Madrid have instructed police to ensure no votes are cast in a referendum that the courts have ruled unconstitutional.

Last week, a dozen regional government officials were detained. Of the around 2.3 million Catalans - less than half of those eligible - who vote, more than 80 percent choose secession.

The Madrid-based Spanish government has maintained the ballot can not and will not happen because it contravenes the constitution, which refers to "the indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation".

Catalans have staged numerous protests and occupied polling stations to secure their right to vote.

"What you see here was not planned beforehand".

But if the region becomes independent from Spain, it'll open up the possibility of Barcelona featuring in other famous European football leagues like the English Premier League, the Italian Serie A, or the French Ligue 1. "We will carry the Catalan flag's (red and yellow) colors on the collars of our shirts and in our hearts".

The EU's silence has been especially conspicuous since Catalan officials appealed to the bloc directly to mediate the dispute.