Thousands of demonstrators calling for Catalan independence gathered in towns across the region on Sunday following Madrid’s actions last week to try to block a referendum that it considers illegal.
Spanish police have arrested a number of Catalan officials who were involved in organising the October first vote – they also seized electoral material, including ballot papers and ballot boxes.
“The Spanish Government is abusing its power, preventing us from voting in the referendum and accusing us of rebelling against the state,” said Jordi Sanchez, President of the Catalan National Assembly.
Following the arrests in Barcelona last week, Carles Puigdemont, the head of the Catalan regional government, said the referendum will go ahead.
But Catalan’s socialist party says people should respect the law.
“The law has to be respected. The socialist party is defending the State of Law. It’s our framework of coexistence. But respecting the law alone will not end the Catalan issue, it’s more of a political issue,” said Secretary of the PSC, Salvador Illa.
A list of polling stations published online was removed on Saturday, on Sunday people were seen printing and sharing the details.
Although polls show less than half of Catalonia’s 5.5 million voters want independence, most in the wealthy northeastern region simply want the chance to vote on the issue.