Catalans queue for 'illegal' independence referendum: 'We will vote!'



BARCELONA (dpa)- Ballot papers and boxes appeared at dozens of referendum sites in Catalonia overnight Sunday amid chants of "Votarem" (We will vote), despite earlier claims by the Spanish government that it had succeeded in stopping the "illegal" consultation.
Catalan authorities planned more than 2,300 polling stations for some 5.3 million eligible voters, called to cast ballots from 9 am to 8 pm (0700-1800 GMT).



"TO THE POLLS, CATALANS!" the pro-independence group Omnium Cultural tweeted, along with pictures of pre-dawn queues at schools and libraries which had been occupied by activists to prevent their closure by police. "Today is a day that will last years."
The Spanish government, enforcing a Constitutional Court ban on the ballot, said late Saturday that police had shut down "the majority" of designated referendum sites, and had raided the hall where votes were due to be counted.
Catalonia has 7.5 million inhabitants and, accounting for roughly 20 per cent of Spain's economic output, it is one of its wealthiest regions. It has a separate language, Catalan, a history of oppression from Madrid, and grievances about subsidizing the rest of Spain.
According to opinion polls, there is no majority support for independence among Catalans, but the 'yes' vote is widely expected to prevail Sunday as unionists have been urged to boycott the referendum.
Turnout is seen as critical: a high number would allow secessionists to claim they have a mandate for independence; a low one could seriously undermine their attempts to be taken seriously. But there are doubts that participation rates can be measured reliably.
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Sunday, October 1st 2017
dpa
           


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