Police to remove people from Catalan voting stations on Sunday: government source

A Spanish government source said police, who have been mobilized in their thousands to the region in the northeast of Spain to enforce a court order banning the referendum, would remove people from polling stations on Sunday.

Should the vote take place, a "yes" vote is likely, given that most of the 40 percent of Catalans who polls show support independence are expected to cast ballots while most of those against it are not.

Authorities in Madrid and Barcelona continued their standoff on Friday (29 September), hours before an independence referendum was due to take place in Catalonia despite having been declared illegal by Spanish judges.

Spain's constitution says that only the nation's government can call a referendum on sovereignty.

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

And despite the passions provoked on both sides, there has been no violence nor calls to violence, but the tension has turned Catalan independence into a powder keg in Western Europe.

"Everything is prepared at the more than 2,000 voting points so they have ballot boxes and voting slips, and have everything people need to express their opinion", Puigdemont said.

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

A Spanish sports minister claims that Barcelona could join the Premier League if Catalonia gains independence from Spain.

This month, the Spanish Constitutional Court suspended referendum-related legislation passed by the Catalan parliament, majority lead by a pro-separatist coalition, and prosecutors are ordering police to ensure the referendum does not occur.

But pro-independence leader Carles Puigdemont, President of the Catalan Generalitat, told crowds in Barcelona that Catalonia had already "defeated the state" in its bid for autonomy.

Since then, web closures, detentions and the seizure of millions of ballots don't appear to have dampened the enthusiasm of the separatists in this wealthy northeastern region which is home to 16 per cent of Spain's population.

"I insist: there will be no referendum on October 1st", government spokesperson Inigo Mendez de Vigo said on Friday during a press conference following the weekly cabinet meeting.

Catalans who spoke to CNN in Barcelona stressed that they want the freedom to exercise their democratic right to hold a vote, whatever the outcome. "Spain is a member of the EU, so the European Commission can no longer argue that it is an internal affair", Romeva said.

—2010: Spain's Madrid-based Constitutional Court strikes down key parts of the 2006 charter, inadvertently breathing new life into the secession movement. Prior to the vote, Madrid launched a crackdown on Catalonia, local government buildings were raided and top-ranking Catalonian officials, including Junior Economy Minister Josep Maria Jové, were arrested over referendum documents.

Spain's military police also raided Catalan government offices, during which at least 14 junior officials and associates were arrested and nearly 10 million ballot papers were seized.

"This is a dead end, they want to destroy the state, Spain and Catalonia", said Dolores Molero, a 53-year-old secretary from Tarragona, a city further south.

  • Leroy Wright