Police to take over polling stations in Catalonia to thwart independence ballot

Police to take over polling stations in Catalonia to thwart independence ballot

Police to take over polling stations in Catalonia to thwart independence ballot

Speaking days after Spanish police arrested 14 Catalan officials, seized nearly 10m ballot papers and chartered ferries to accommodate the thousands of extra police officers who are being sent to Catalonia to stop the referendum, Maza rejected suggestions that the government was being heavy-handed.

Catalonia's Parliament on September 6 passed a bill enabling the independence referendum to be held on October 1.

Spain's government said on Tuesday police would take control of voting booths in Catalonia to help thwart the region's planned independence referendum that Madrid has declared illegal.

"If the outcome is a "yes" vote and a unilateral declaration of independence follows, the destabilising effect on the economies of Catalonia and Spain could be very large", says Oliver Jones, an economist at Capital Economics. "I confirm that there will be ballot boxes and ballots, as well as something even more important for holding a referendum: voters", he told radio station France Inter.

Police have already arrested several regional officials and state prosecutors are threatening to charge "collaborators" in the referendum.

The Spanish administration on Tuesday started cracking down on preparations to hold an independence referendum for the autonomous community of Catalonia, reported AFP.

The Spanish Interior Ministry in Madrid said the order to note down the personal details of officials was given to police by the top state prosecutor in Catalonia. Hundreds of police reinforcements have been brought into Barcelona and other cities.

Madrid has also threatened fines against bureaucrats working on the ballot, including the region's election commission, which was dissolved last week.

The Spanish government says it is upholding the court's order by trying to prevent the vote.

But the unrelenting opposition from Madrid means such a result would go all but unrecognized, potentially setting up a new phase of the dispute.

One Catalonia representative (above) has likened the clampdown to events that took place in imperial times and, latterly, Spain's days of fascism.

He also said the risk of violence was of concern to many people.

Although Catalonia enjoys a certain measure of autonomy, separtists have long campaigned for independence for a wealthy region with its own language and cultural traditions.

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