Spanish king criticizes Catalan referendum

Frederick Owens
September 13, 2017

"The theme of today's protest is "Diada of the Yes", Ines Arrimadas, the leader in Catalonia of the anti-independence Ciudadanos party, said on Spanish television.

"Catalan people will make independence possible; if there are a lot of us, they can't stop us".

A spokeswoman for the central government's representative in the wealthy northeastern region put the turnout lower, at around 350,000 people.

On Tuesday, police were summoned to a Catalan court and ordered to seize any material related to the independence referendum.

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

However, the pro-independence coalition ruling Catalonia has pledged to hold the vote despite the prohibition.

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Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has said he will do "whatever is needed" to prevent the vote from taking place.

The Constitutional Court had already suspended the law and decree calling for a referendum on secession while it considers the national government's claim that it is unconstitutional.

The pro-independence coalition governing Catalonia says the October 1 ballot will go ahead despite a ruling by Spain's Constitutional Court suspending the vote until judges can rule on its legality. 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.

In a survey by the Catalan Centre of Opinion Studies in July, 41.1 percent backed independence while 49.9 percent rejected it. In such case, the law will enter into force the next day after the referendum and remain in force for half a year, allowing for a new parliament to take over to draft the constitution of an independent Catalonia.

The economically powerful Catalonia has a thriving population of 7.5 million and accounts for a fifth of Spain's economic output.

Spain's economic troubles and a perception that the region pays more in taxes than it receives in investments from Madrid have helped push the secessionist movement. The following year the demonstration took the shape of a giant "V" for "vote", while in 2015 the march resembled a human arrow.

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