Spain is taking every possible measure to prevent Catalonians from going to the polls tomorrow.
Yesterday we heard that school teachers were to be replaced by local mayors to open the schools for tomorrow’s referendum, so that the teachers could not be prosecuted afterwards, but if this latest news from Spain rings true, then there might not be a referendum after all.
Spanish police, who were brought in by the thousands as the orders of the government in Madrid, have started sealing off the polling stations all over Catalonia. So far, 1,300 of the 2,315 schools that were designated as polling station in the region’s outlawed independence referendum have been cordoned off.
The Madrid government’s spokesman declared that the people who were still in the schools would be allowed out, but no one would be allowed back in tomorrow.
In response, Catalonians have started occupying the remaining schools so that the police cannot seal them off as well.
<blockquote class="twitter-video" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Referendum activists occupy <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Barcelona?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Barcelona</a> school amid threats of closure <a href="https://t.co/HdbCb6esxA">https://t.co/HdbCb6esxA</a> <a href="https://t.co/TfUvD3U3uZ">pic.twitter.com/TfUvD3U3uZ</a></p>— Ruptly (@Ruptly) <a href="https://twitter.com/Ruptly/status/914103918883491840?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 30, 2017</a></blockquote>
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The news has greatly angered the Catalonian government, but in a first reaction the Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont said that the vote would still go ahead: "Everything is prepared at the more than 2,000 voting points so they have ballot boxes and voting slips, and have everything people need to express their opinion."
Catalonia is the region with only 16% of the Spanish population but because of its thriving economy, it produces 26% of all Spanish exports and 19% of Spanish GDP. It is far richer than the other regions.
The referendum is highly contested and could have serious consequences if Catalonians indeed vote for independence. They would then declare themselves as a sovereign state within 48 hours after the result and rip their region out of Spain’s grip, leaving them at the same time out of the EU and the Eurozone. According to the latest polls, the vote could go either way.
Major companies having invested in Catalonia are looking frightful at what is happening. Just yesterday, Google was ordered by a Spanish judge to stop providing information about the referendum which is deemed illegal in Spain.