Claims of 'Franco-era' repression ahead of Catalonia's vote

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By Catherine Hardy  with REUTERS
Claims of 'Franco-era' repression ahead of Catalonia's vote

There are claims of Franco-era repression after the Spanish government stationed police at voting booths in Catalonia to help thwart the region’s planned independence referendum.

Senior Spanish government officials said on Tuesday the authorities had done enough to prevent a meaningful referendum as Catalonia lacked an election commission, ballot boxes, ballot papers, a transparent census and election material.

The dispute has plunged Spain into one of its biggest political crises since the restoration of democracy in the 1970s after decades of military dictatorship.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says the referendum is against the law and the constitutional court has ordered it be halted while its legality is determined.

Speaking on Tuesday alongside US President Donald Trump in Washington, Rajoy said it would be “ridiculous” if the affluent northeastern region declared independence from Spain.

Catalonia’s separatist government, however, remains committed to holding it on Sunday.

What are the police doing?

Catalonia’s prosecutor has ordered the regional police – known as the Mossos d’Esquadra – to take control of any voting booths by Saturday, according to a spokesman.

The prosecutor’s office says police will take the names of anyone participating in the vote and confiscate relevant documents.

Anyone in possession of the keys or entrance codes to a polling booth could be considered a collaborator to crimes of disobedience, malfeasance and misappropriation of funds, the order says.

What are the Catalonians saying?

The Catalan regional government, which plans to declare independence within 48 hours of a “yes” victory, maintained on Tuesday the vote will go ahead.

It has sent out notifications to Catalans to staff polling stations across the region.

What is the prediction for the result?

Experts say a “yes” vote is likely, given that most of the 40% of Catalans who polls show support independence are expected to cast ballots.

Most of those against it are not.

What they are saying

“Today we can affirm that there will be no effective referendum in Catalonia. All the referendum’s logisitics have been dismantled,” – Enric Millo, the Spanish government’s representative in Catalonia told reporters.

“I think the people of Catalonia should stay with Spain. I think it would be foolish not to,” – US President Donald Trump.