Spain Catalonia: Ballot Papers for Banned Referendum to be Seized

Spain Catalonia: Ballot Papers for Banned Referendum to be Seized

Spain Catalonia: Ballot Papers for Banned Referendum to be Seized

But Catalonia's pro-independence government says it will still go ahead.

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

Prosecutors have already launched an official complaint against Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and members of his government over their referendum plans, accusing them of civil disobedience, misfeasance and misappropriation of public funds - the latter carrying jail sentences of up to eight years.

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Polls have shown support for independence waning in recent years with those wanting a separate state in a minority.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's government is increasing the pressure to prevent an independence referendum, scheduled for October 1, from going ahead.

"That means that those of us who aren't in favour of independence can not participate", she added.

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Spain's Constitutional Court has suspended a referendum law that was fast-tracked through Catalonia's regional parliament last week but the Catalan government has vowed to go ahead with the vote nonetheless. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's government has declared the vote illegal and challenged it in the courts.

The court, which serves as the highest Spanish authority on constitutional issues, said on Tuesday that the law outlining a legal framework for the October 1 referendum of independence in Catalonia would be suspended until judges decide its compliance with the Spanish constitution. Spain's constitution bars regions from unilaterally calling an independence referendum. Catalan society is deeply divided over independence.

Like the referendum held in Britain a year ago on the country's membership in the European Union, the issue in Catalonia pits rural areas - which are more pro-independence - against large urban centres like Barcelona which are more in favour of remaining in Spain.

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During the 2013 "Diada" demonstrators formed a human chain that crossed Catalonia.

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