Barcelona mayor wants European Union to mediate in referendum standoff

Katrina Barker
Сентября 29, 2017

Spain's Constitutional Court, which previously ruled that only central authorities can call such a vote and all Spanish nationals should vote on sovereignty matters, has suspended the referendum.

Madrid said police would take control of voting booths on Sunday and any local politicians opening a polling station could be charged with criminal activity.

'Today we can affirm that there will be no effective referendum in Catalonia. The Catalan government said it was determined to continue holding the referendum on Sunday for regional independence, despite Madrid's attempts to stop it.

These are the first ballot boxes to be seized by police in the crackdown on the referendum.

Madrid says the constitution bars a regional administration to call such a vote and that it is exclusively a responsibility of the central government.

These actions have provoked mass demonstrations and drawn accusations from Catalan leaders that the Madrid government was resorting to the repression of the Franco dictatorship.

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Thousands of striking Catalan university students, many carrying pro-independence flags, marched in Barcelona to protest the central government crackdown on the ballot.

The Catalan regional government, which plans to declare independence within 48 hours of a "yes" victory, maintained on Tuesday the vote will go ahead and it sent out notifications to Catalans to man polling booths across the region.

Catalan Foreign Minister Raul Romeva called for political support from the European Commission and the European Parliament on Thursday in light of the violation of fundamental democratic principles in Spain. Romeva spoke a day after Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont accused the European Union, in an interview with The Associated Press, of "turning its back" on Catalonia in its conflict with Spain's central government.

Now, Spain's chief public prosecutor has said Catalonia's current president, Carles Puigdemont, could be arrested for civil disobedience, abuse of office and misuse of public funds for pressing ahead with preparations for the October 1 referendum, according to Reuters.

Analysts have said that an independent Catalonia would trigger a crisis the EU would find hard to manage as it would energise separatist movements in other European countries.

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