Catalonia referendum: Schools occupied ahead of vote

Sunday, 01 Oct, 2017

But Jordi Sanchez, the president of the Catalan National Assembly, an influential pro-independence organisation, told AFP the court order "simply says that on Sunday these spaces can't be used for the referendum". Of the around 2.3 million Catalans - less than half of those eligible - who vote, more than 80 percent choose secession.

"Our hope", Mitjans argued, "is that the massive presence of people prevents them from sealing off the polling stations".

The referendum was blocked back by the Spain's Constitutional Court and Madrid for being at odds with the 1978 constitution.

Police have sealed off 1,300 of 2,315 schools in Catalonia designated as polling stations for the region's banned independence referendum, Spain's central government says. While opinion polls have indicated the vast majority of Catalans favor holding a referendum, they are nearly evenly split over independence itself.

The Catalan police, or Mossos d'Esquadra, who are monitoring the schools, are held in great affection by the Catalan people, especially after Islamist attacks in the region in August that killed 16.

Thousands of extra police have been drafted in from across Spain to try to stop it going ahead.

A magistrate at Catalonia's High Court ordered Google Inc.to remove "On Votar 1-Oct" app from the Google Play service, according to an email statement from Catalan supreme court. Similar rallies also took place in other cities, including Malaga, Cordoba, Seville, Santander, Palma de Mallorca and Zaragoza. In 163 polling stations, people continue to occupy the premises.

"For us, there is nothing more important than to continue to guarantee the safety of people", the Catalan police tweeted Friday.

Catalan police officers report the activities organized by parents in a school at the Gracia neighbourhood in Barcelona, on September 30, 2017.

The Spanish government still says the referendum is illegal and vows that it will not allow this to happen.

Meanwhile, not everyone is happy over the upcoming referendum.

Protesters in Barcelona wave Catalonian flags en route to a demonstration in favor of the region's independence.

The rise of the Catalan separatist movement may be a outcome of Rajoy's party's hardline policy on the region's autonomy, the political scientist said.

Thousands of people have taken to the streets and declared their support for the referendum, including unions, teachers groups and students.

As the division in Spanish society grows, Spain's European partners are apparently not eager to intervene.

"[It is] a Spanish problem in which we can do little".

"We are witnessing the worst democratic regression since the death of Franco", Mr. Puigdemont said in an interview, referring to the dictator, General Francisco Franco, whose death in 1975 opened the way for Spanish democracy.

-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.