Catalonia gears up for independence poll Sunday despite Madrid's hindrance

Catalonia gears up for independence poll Sunday despite Madrid's hindrance

Catalonia will hold a referendum on becoming independent from Spain tomorrow.

Spain's Prime Minister Mariano has insisted that Sunday's referendum "won't happen" after ballot boxes were seized by police and the vote was declared illegal by the Spanish government.

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

But the 52-year-old laboratory worker changed her mind amid an unprecedented crackdown by Spain's government as it tries to prevent Sunday's independence referendum from going ahead.

Spanish police have arrested Catalan officials who were involved in organizing the October 1 vote and they also seized electoral material, including ballot papers and ballot boxes.

The academics, from the fields of political science, law, economics, human rights, sociology, and history, compared the current government's actions to that of fascist dictator Francisco Franco, who ruled Spain for nearly forty years before his death in 1975. In a sign that large crowds are expected on the streets on Sunday, department store chain El Corte Ingles said it would shut three stores in central Barcelona.

"We will vote! We will vote!" farmers chanted.

With the two sides seemingly on collision course the potential for outbreaks of violence is a realistic possibility with the local police ordered to close down the polling stations and stop people from voting.

"If it doesn't take an interest in what is happening in Catalonia when everyone is watching and taking an interest, there's something wrong", he said, accusing the European Union of "looking the other way".

So far, the Catalan police, known as the Mossos, a force that is held in affection in the region, particularly after the Islamist attacks in August, have shown a friendly face.

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Montserrat Aguilera wasn't intending to vote for the Catalonia region to secede from the rest of Spain.

The Catalan government's steps towards the referendum are illegal, according to Spanish law.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont has called on Catalans to actpeacefully during Sunday's referendum as thousands descend on Barcelona Town Hall on the eve of the poll.

Also unknown is what happens next if regional leaders declare any vote legitimate and Catalonia declares independence.

Police have for days been seizing electoral items such as ballot papers as they follow orders to stop the referendum while prosecutors ordered the closure of websites linked to the vote and the detention of key members of the team organising the referendum.

Catalans have staged numerous protests and occupied polling stations to secure their right to vote. Or if the vote tilts toward independence, is it just the beginning of new round of negotiations with the central government?

As September draws to an uneasy end in Spain, Oct. 1 looms heavily on the horizon as the date set by the Catalan government for a vote on the creation of a Catalan Republic and secession from Spain.

However, he admitted there could be "sham voting" in the region, located in Spain's northeast, where millions could turn out, according to some projections.

Maite Lopez Sanchez, 55, who came to the protest with her daughter, said Spanish institutions should "explain better what they are doing to enforce the constitution". In 163 polling stations, people continue to occupy the premises.

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