Catalonia referendum: Thousands descend on Barcelona AGAINST independence vote

Pep Guardiola

The Catalan government said police have settled into its communications hub and will remain there for the next two days after it was ordered by Catalonia's High Court to police to stop electronic voting.

The Spanish court has also ordered public officials not to cooperate with the ballot, and has vowed to close any polling station, as well as seize ballot papers, in order to disrupt what has been decreed an illegal referendum called by the Catalan parliament in breach of procedures.

"Regardless of turnout or the result this weekend, the Catalan referendum is becoming yet another PR disaster for the political establishment in Spain", Stephen Gallo, European head of FX strategy at BMO Financial Group, said in a note Wednesday.

The national government has already ordered schools in and around Barcelona to be locked on Sunday so they can not be used as polling stations.

Catalonia's defiant regional government is pressing ahead anyway, urging the region's 5.3 million voters to make their voices heard. Catalan officials said they planned to hold the referendum anyway.

Police have sealed over half of Catalan schools, designated as polling stations, for the now-banned independence referendum.

Bastarreche said: "Most countries have written constitutions, and the Spanish one is a product of our 500-year history, and one of its central principles is the indivisibility of the kingdom".

Parti Québécois Leader Jean-François Lisée compared Spain's effort to clamp down on the vote to Quebec's October crisis and said the provincial government must ask the Spanish people to respect democracy and allow the Catalan people to vote. Thousands of extra police have been deployed to the northeastern region with orders to evacuate and shut down potential voting stations by 6 a.m. on Sunday.

Catalan referendum vote police
Riot police clashed with voters on Sunday. Getty Images

Another option would be the creation of a Catalan football league but, since this would be a new competition in the eyes of UEFA, they would require a brand new coefficient - affecting qualification for the Champions League and other UEFA competitions.

"We must organize it so that there are long queues to give the image to the world that we are going to vote", instructions sent to voters read.

Catalonia in the northwest of Spain is home to 7.5million residents and the country's second city, Barcelona.

On Saturday, Guardia Civil officers raided the Catalan government's telecommunications and information technology center, Joan Maria Piqué, the worldwide communications director for the government of Catalonia, told CNN.

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont told Reuters in an interview, however: "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".

On Friday, Catalan farmers rode tractors through the streets of Barcelona, driving slowly and waving pro-independence flags and banners.

The Spanish government has promised to halt the referendum.

Dozens of similar protests calling for the nation's unity popped up in other Spanish cities in the first large grassroots response to the Catalan independence bid.


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