Catalonia: the battle to politically de-legitimize an illegal referendum

TONI ALBIR

Manchester City's head coach Pep Guardiola (L) and Catalonian president Carles Puigdemont (R), during the demonstration to support the referendum under the logo 'Referendum is democracy' held at Montjuic, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, 11 June 2017. The Catalan Government will hold a referendum on their independence from central government on 01 October under the question 'Do you want Catalonia to be an independent state in the form of a republic?'. The planned vote will be held with the total opposition from the central government of the conservative Popular Party (PP), which has consistently appealed to the Constitutional Court to block the referendum.

Catalonia: the battle to politically de-legitimize an illegal referendum


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The Catalan regional government is facing the paradox of seeking to organize a politically legitimate referendum that has been pronounced illegal.

The Spanish government and law enforcement agencies are taking steps to undermine the organization of the October 1st referendum.

The Catalan President Carles Puigdemont told the Financial Times in August that there are already 6,000 ballot boxes, allegedly acrylic and transparent. The voting register is inclusive and based on data from earlier this year.

According to El Pais, the government issued an 8,000 ballot box tender, but there was no bidder as the referendum has been pronounced illegal.

The battle has now centered on polling stations and ballots.

Polling stations is a particularly difficult issue, as it requires spreading across the region whilst ensuring secrecy.

On Wednesday, the public prosecutor ordered the investigation of 712 mayors who support the Catalan referendum, the Catalan News Agency (CAN) reports. There are 948 mayors in Catalonia. The regional news agency also claims that the national police force (National Guard) is bolstering its presence in the region.

Meanwhile, the prosecutor is also focusing on ballots and campaigning, conducting searches at print shops suspected of printing material for the referendum.

Celebrities are as polarized as the general public.

Speaking to AFP, the Catalan tennis player Rafael Nadal has come out in support of unity with Spain, while Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola supports the legitimacy of the referendum. Addressing a crowd in Barcelona, he said “we will vote, even if the Spanish state doesn’t want it,” the BBC reports.

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