Catalan independence: Police told to seize ballot boxes

Catalonia's polarization escalates

M - Up to a million Catalans have gathered in Barcelona to call for independence less than three weeks before the region is due to hold a vote on whether to break away from Spain, The Guardian reported.

"If there is huge mobilisation, they can't do anything in Madrid", says Jordi Calatayud, a 21-year-old economics student of the October 1 vote.

This handout picture released on September 11, 2017 by the Assemblea Nacional Catalana (Catalan National Assembly) shows an aerial view of people waving a giant banner reading in Catalan "Independence now" during a pro-independence demonstration, on September 11, 2017 in Barcelona during the National Day of Catalonia, the "Diada".

City police said on Twitter that around one million people took part, one of the highest turn-outs in recent years.

Since 2012 the holiday has been used by separatists to press for an independent state. The law rejected by the constitutional court on Tuesday is set to enter into force on October 2 if the pro-independence front wins the referendum to which the majority of Spanisards are however opposed. Authorities have also filed criminal charges against Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, among other officials, saying he was only authorized to call an election not a referendum.

Those against independence complained that a day meant for all Catalans had been hijacked by the separatists - and even more so this year ahead of the referendum.

"What more do we have to do to make it understood that the people of Catalonia want to vote?"

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative government has vowed to do everything in his power to stop the referendum.

The Constitutional Court of Spain has suspended another referendum law ratified in the regional parliament of Catalonia as Madrid struggles to block a vote of independence in the region planned for earlier next month. Spain's constitution bars regions from unilaterally calling an independence referendum. Police have since searched newspaper offices and printers for signs of any preparation for the referendum. A survey at the end of July found that 49.4% of Catalans were against independence and 41.1% supported it.

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