Prosecutor orders Catalan police to “confiscate” ballot boxes in the wake of one-million-strong rally
President Puigdemont says priority is guaranteeing security on October 1 rather than removing referendum material
The political storm continued the day after Catalonia’s National Day million-strong pro-independence demonstration. Catalonia’s prosecution office, a branch of the Spanish one, ordered the Catalan police chief, Josep Lluís Trapero, to confiscate ballot boxes and other material in order to prevent the referendum. The prosecutor met Trapero along with Spanish police and Guardia Civil chiefs to give them instructions on how to stop the vote.
The Catalan police is in the eye of the storm but the Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, believes that the police will not take action against the vote. “Between removing ballot boxes and guaranteeing public safety, there are priorities in this life,” said Puigdemont, responding to questions about what the Catalan police might do on October 1. Trapero received a letter from the Spanish Constitutional Court a few days ago warning him that taking any step towards aiding the vote might result in criminal charges.
Referendum to go ahead even if cabinet barred from office, says VP
Puigdemont reiterated his offer of talks with the Spanish government saying, “there is time for dialogue until the last moment.” However, the state executive’s delegate in Catalonia, Enric Millo, replied that sitting at the same table is impossible unless Puigdemont gives up his plans to hold the referendum. Yet, Catalan vice president, Oriol Junqueras, insisted once again that even if the whole cabinet is barred from office, the vote will still go ahead.
"What else do we have to do to show that the Catalan people want to vote?"
Carles Puigdemont · Catalan president
Meanwhile, all Catalan government members and some members of the Parliament bureau personally received letters from the Spanish Constitutional Court warning them that their plans for October 1 are illegal. On Tuesday, the same court suspended the transition law, meant to provide a provisional constitutional framework in the event that Catalan independence is declared.
Court asks Catalan TV to "abstain" from reporting on actions leading to vote
The Catalan TV also received a letter from the Constitutional Court -through the Catalan High Court- asking the public broadcaster to "abstain" from "reporting" on "agreements or actions" that could lead to the holding of the independence referendum.
September 11 demo: different interpretations
The meeting between the prosecutor and the police came a day after the September 11 demonstration. While the Spanish government and the main opposition party in Catalonia claim that attendance of the rally had gone down compared to previous years, the Catalan executive took the march as clear evidence that people want to vote on October 1.
Catalan opposition leader, Inés Arrimadas, said that fewer people attended the pro-independence protest this year. She also stated that she fears “the social, institutional, legal and political tension that will take place” if the referendum goes ahead. “What else do we have to do to show that the Catalan people want to vote?” was Puigdemont’s reaction.
World media link rally with referendum
Major newspapers and media outlets around the world reported on the million-strong demonstration on Monday, and linked it to the October 1 vote. The New York Times, for example, reported that the “protest in Catalonia adds to pressure before independence vote.” Meanwhile, the BBC pointed out that the streets of Barcelona were “a mass of red and yellow flags three weeks ahead of the planned vote,” while a France24 correspondent called the rally a “show of force” in the run-up of the referendum.