Tensions rise ahead of 'illegal' Catalan referendum

Tensions rise ahead of 'illegal' Catalan referendum

Tensions rise ahead of 'illegal' Catalan referendum

They showed one of the transparent plastic ballot boxes that was to be used and said 5.3 million people would be able to vote in 2,315 polling stations managed by more than 7,200 volunteers.

-Nov. 9 2014: The Catalan government scraps its planned referendum on independence and, instead, calls the ballot an unofficial opportunity for locals to express their opinion about Catalonia's future.

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

They have arranged an independence referendum for Sunday, which Madrid has repeatedly deemed "illegal and undemocratic".

On the other hand, Catalan officials say they plan to hold a referendum, regardless of everything, and those who support them "defend" polling stations with various activities.

The country's foreign minister Alfonso Dastis doesn't think the vote will happen.

"The government has a constitutional mandate to enforce the laws maintaining civic order", Mr Mendez de Vigo said during a regular weekly press briefing.

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

He told a news conference in Barcelona that he met with regional security officials in an effort to defuse tension surrounding the vote.

Authorities in Madrid have instructed police to ensure no votes are cast in Sunday's vote.

Police forces acting on judges' orders have seized ballots and arrested regional officials in the crackdown.

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.

And, if Catalonia gains independence, Figueras suspects that Barcelona and other Catalan sides will have to choose whether to remain in the Spanish league or look to join a competition in another country.

Spain's main opposition party, known as Citizens-Party of the Citizenry also rushed to the central government's help, holding a counter-rally in Barcelona on Friday against Catalonia's separation from Spain.

The warning comes after a dozen Catalan officials were detained for two days last week.

"Due to the threat of the sealing of schools, people from the educational community have organized themselves, not only here, but all over Catalonia, to make sure we can vote freely on Sunday", Miguel Angel Torrijos, a father of one of the school children, told RT's Ruptly news video agency.

Spain is likely to deploy thousands of national police officers, now stationed on board two cruise ships docked in Barcelona's port, to disrupt any voting, and ultimately to guarantee Spanish sovereignty over Catalonia, our correspondent says.

Addressing the rally, Carles Puigdemont, the president of the autonomous region, said Catalonia has already won against the government of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, whom he accused of being "authoritarian".

The referendum's success or failure could be down to how Catalonia's 17,000 regional officers respond to their orders from the Spanish government.

Asked directly what Estonia's position was on current attempts of Catalan nationalists to push for the region's independence from Spain, Ratas said that this was "definitely an internal matter". It has sent in thousands of police officers from outside the region, threatening to block polling stations.

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