1 million join rally for Catalan independence

Catalonia's polarization escalates

Catalonia's polarization escalates

So far, 712 municipal leaders have pledged to allow the use of public space for the October 1 vote, although the mayor of the area's main city Barcelona has not taken a definitive position.

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

"There are 20 days left (until the referendum) and the mobilisation that prompted this process remains intact", Catalonia's pro-independence president Carles Puigdemont told reporters.

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

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For the sixth successive year, Catalonia's national day - La Diada de Catalunya - was used as a political rally by the pro-independence movement.

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

Spain's constitutional court on Tuesday suspended the law regulating the break-away of the autonomous region of Catalonia in the event of a Yes victory in the referendum on independence on October 1.

The majority of regional governments are willing to back the referendum, although they don't necessarily back an independence vote.

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The Constitutional Court last Thursday suspended the referendum after a legal challenge by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

With Spain's central government promising to block the referendum, the pro-independence camp was keen to show that it can rally its troops - especially after participation in the "Diada" declined past year.

Spain's King Felipe VI has commented for the first time on the political crisis triggered by Catalonia's plan to hold a referendum on the region's independence, saying people must respect the country's constitution, which forbids secession. Police have since searched newspaper offices and printers for signs of any preparation for the referendum. Some 70 percent wanted a referendum, however, to settle the question once and for all. In 2015 the march resembled a human arrow.

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