In Catalonia, gave the official start of the campaign for independence

In Catalonia, gave the official start of the campaign for independence

Rajoy's conservative government has said the vote violates Spain's constitution, which states that only central authorities can call a referendum.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has described it as "the most important political development in the West this year, by far" and it has already thrown Spain into its deepest political crisis of the modern era.

The event topped weeks of mounting tensions as Catalan leaders go ahead with referendum preparations despite Madrid's ban and a court ruling that deems it illegal.

Pro-separatists are a minority in Tarragona, the capital of a province with the same name with a population of around 130,000, and several chemical and oil refineries. "It does not affect the powers devolved to the Catalan government".

"This isn't for real, only supporters of independence will go vote, they will win and who knows what will happen after". According to a June survey by the Catalan government's own polling agency, 41 percent supported independence while 49 percent were for staying in Spain.

"The Commission does not involve itself in internal, domestic debates", Juncker said, adding that the discussion was hypothetical as the referendum is not recognized by Spain.

A man carries a sign that reads "Spain for sale" next to a huge banner reading "Independence Now" during a rally on Catalonia's national day "La Diada" in Barcelona, Spain, September 11, 2017.

More than 700 mayors have pledged to hold the referendum, but they head up mostly small municipalities. The region includes Barcelona, the seventh-largest European Union city.

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Mayor Ada Colau said yesterday that people in Barcelona will be able to vote "without putting institutions or public workers at risk", but she gave no details as to how this would work.

Citizens also are divided over the independence issue.

The city's Socialist mayor, Josep Felix Ballesteros, has refused to provide facilities for the referendum.

"Some post photos of the mayors or of their homes", he told AFP.

Catalonia, which is roughly the size of Belgium, accounts for one-fifth of Spain's economic output.

Cristobal Montoro said the government is also giving officials in Catalonia 48 hours to comply with a new system to scrutinise public payments to ensure that no public funds are being used on the illegal vote.

Officials in Catalonia report a much higher than usual presence of Spanish national police across the region, suggesting they're looking for ballots, ballot boxes, or anything else that can be seized to undermine the vote. That might lead to a distorted result that heavily favours independence but which fails to represent all Catalans.

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