The mounting political crisis in Spain over Catalonia’s campaign for independence intensified on Saturday with a new row over the control of the local police force as the regional government pressed ahead with plans to hold an illegal vote next weekend.
All local and national police forces were told that they had been temporarily placed under a single chain of command reporting directly to the interior ministry in Madrid. But this has been rejected by the Catalan authorities.
Joaquim Forn, Catalonia’s interior counsellor,
“The head of Catalan police has indicated that they will not accept the coordination of the Spanish state representative. Therefore we want to transmit a lot of calm to the citizens because the leader of the Catalan police will not hand over his functions”
The finance ministry in Madrid has also taken control of regional finances to make sure public money is not being spent to pay for the logistics, the vote, or to campaign.
Between 3,000 and 4,000 police officers coming from other Spanish regions have already arrived in Catalonia or are on their way. They will join 5,000 state police already based in the region and 17,000 local Mossos.
Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy reiterated again that the vote should not go ahead,
“The most sensible, the most reasonable and the most democratic thing to do is to stop. End this situation, end the harassment to mayors and councillors, end the demonstrations before the courts to intimidate the judges. That’s not democratic.”
But the possibility of the vote being stopped seems unlikely, with protests continuing in Barcelona and Catalonia’s president taking to Twitter, defying several court rulings, saying “You can’t stem the tide,” before giving a link to a new website with details of how people can vote.