Independence Referendum Can Go Ahead, Catalan Govt Says

The Catalan government said Sunday it will go ahead with an independence referendum despite a crackdown by the central government in Madrid which has branded the vote illegal.

“The government today is in a position to affirm that we can celebrate the referendum of self-determination — not as we wanted, but (it will have democratic) guarantees,” government spokesman Jordi Turull told a news conference.

While some polling stations would not be able to open, the government has a “universal census” of voters which will allow people to cast their ballots at any voting station using their passport or other personal identification document, he said.

“This will slow down the process but it will allow everyone to vote as long as there is a school open,” he said.

Turull said there would be ballots papers at all polling stations but voters could also use home-printed versions of the ballot papers downloaded from websites.

“The government will do everything possible so Catalans can vote,” Turull said.

A group of “academics and professionals” will follow the voting to ensure “fundamental rights” are not violated.

Spain’s central government is staunchly against the vote, which has been ruled unconstitutional by the courts, and has used all the legal tools at its disposal to stop it from taking place.

On orders of judges and prosecutors, police have seized ballot papers, detained key organisers and disabled the Catalan government’s communications hub in Barcelona, cutting its connections with polling stations and access to software that could have allowed “an online vote.”

Turull said “over 140 web pages” related to the referendum had been censured and the seat of the Catalan government in Barcelona had been monitored by “helicopters and drones” in recent days.


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