Spanish Police Shut Down Polling Stations To Stop Voters

Spanish Police Shut Down Polling Stations To Stop Voters

Spanish Police Shut Down Polling Stations To Stop Voters

Spain will brace itself on Sunday as the region of Catalonia prepares to hold a referendum on independence.

This video shows the unity rally outside Plaza Mayor in Valladolid, in the autonomous community of Castile and León.

Spain's central government, led by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has closed polling stations, shut down websites, arrested officials and flooded the region with thousands of police, all in an attempt to stop the vote from taking place.

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont called for "mediation" Saturday to resolve the "serious" political battle dividing his regional authority from the central government in Madrid.

At the same time, European Union officials say they will not mediate the dispute between Spain and Catalonia, calling it a matter of Spanish law. Mounting police threats are having no effect, and people are already queuing up at the polling stations days ahead of schedule.

Catalonia's defiant regional government is pressing ahead anyway, urging the region's 5.3 million voters to make their voices heard.

"I think it's about democracy and liberty", Ramon Hernández, 80, said.

Catalan daily La Vanguardia reported that the schools had planned activities such as pajama parties, dance classes, games, outdoor cinema and sports to keep everyone entertained as the clock counts down to Sunday's independence vote, which has been deemed illegal by Spanish authorities.

Supporters of Catalan independence began occupying polling stations on Friday, setting up a possible confrontation with police who have been ordered to clear them out by Sunday morning to ensure a referendum can not go ahead.

The Election Monitoring Committee has been disbanded, and thousands of police officers have been deployed to block entry to the polls.

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

Google has now removed the "On Votar 1-Oct" app from the Play Store following a ruling by Spanish courts.

But Catalans seem more determined than ever to proceed with the vote, according to Gerry Hadden, a reporter in Barcelona.

Thus, yoga sessions, film screenings and social gatherings are organized at some of the 2,315 polling stations, where voters are also present, in order to prevent the police from closing the polls, AP reports.

"We don't know what is going to happen tomorrow".

Several officers from the Civil Guard state police, or Guardia Civil, had earlier on Saturday raided the Catalan technology and communications centre where the software for the electronic counting system is held.

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

The Spanish government has promised to halt the referendum.

Catalan leaders have previously said if the referendum passes, they will declare independence in less than 48 hours.

The Catalan government appeared to soften its language somewhat in a news conference Saturday, with officials talking of "peaceful resistance" and a peaceful demonstration of people's democratic rights.

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