Spain Ratchets Up Police Action to Prevent Catalonia Vote

Spain Ratchets Up Police Action to Prevent Catalonia Vote

The Spanish government said on Friday it would continue controlling Catalan spending so long as "the exceptional situation" continued, referring to the regional government's plans to hold an independence referendum it says is illegal.

Madrid says it will pay bills and handle transfers for basic public services in place of the Catalan government.

"Does anyone think we're not going to vote?"

Mayor Colau gave a boost to the referendum campaign on Thursday with a message that the vote would go ahead in Barcelona, without civil servants involved risking their jobs.

In a letter dated September 13, Catalan Deputy Governor Oriol Junqueras told Spanish Budget Minister Cristobal Montoro the region would no longer comply with the obligation to submit its accounts every week.

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This new system will allow the Spanish state to "replace the region for the majority of essential spending", he added.

He said the arrangement implied "political control that is not related to the objectives of budget stability or to the purposes of state legislation in this matter".

Earlier this week, over a million people gathered in Barcelona, Catalonia's capital, in a show of support for independence on Catalonia's national day 'La Diada'.

Prosecutors have also filed legal proceedings against the five members of an electoral board set up by the regional government to oversee the banned vote.

They were promptly rejected with government spokesman Inigo Mendez de Vigo telling reporters: "It's ironic coming from those who have refused dialogue save for a very specific issue - the only one they care about - the independence referendum".

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"We have reached this moment stronger than what many had thought and wanted, as we are proving by responding firmly to each threat", he said. An open dialogue without conditions.

King Felipe was widely quoted as praising Spain's democracy and social harmony at an awards ceremony on Wednesday, saying "the constitution will prevail over any rupture in that".

The letter accused the Spanish state of "an unprecedented repression offensive".

Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission President, indicated yesterday that the European Union would recognise the independent state of Catalonia if the referendum voted yes.

Supporters of independence are celebrating already despite surveys indicating less than 50 percent of Catalonia's population want full self-rule.

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"We have always said that we would respect the rulings of the Spanish Constitutional Court and the Spanish parliament, said Juncker: "If there were to be a yes vote for Catalan independence we would respect that choice".

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