Catalan's mayors summoned over independence referendum

Spain Threatens To Arrest 700 Mayors For Backing Catalonian Independence

Spain Threatens To Arrest 700 Mayors For Backing Catalonian Independence

The court had earlier accepted an appeal against the independence referendum, whose celebration is now illegal under Spanish law.

Catalan independence parties said the huge turnout - estimated by Barcelona's municipal police at a million - in the regional capital was a show of strength that would add momentum to the cause. "People voted for them to implement those, and they are now doing so."Carles Puigdemont, head of the regional government, said attempts to negotiate the wording of the question and the date of the vote with Madrid quickly broke down". An 80 percent majority backed independence in a symbolic referendum in 2014, which the federal government ruled unconstitutional.

"If anyone urges you to go to a polling station, don't go because the referendum can't take place, it would be an absolutely illegal act", Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Wednesday, the Associated Press reports. Catalonia's vote on breaking away from Spain is deemed illegal and has been suspended by the constitutional court.

Later on Wednesday, the Catalan government's website for information on the vote, referendum.cat, was taken offline.

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"This is just another strategic step that doesn't lead anywhere."This week, Spain's public prosecutor announced a criminal investigation into 700 mayors across Catalonia who are cooperating with the referendum".

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont said September 4 that he won't accept a suspension if the government attempts to remove him.

Tension is mounting between Catalan and Spain's national leaders as Catalonia's president is set to open the "yes" campaign for a planned referendum on seceding from Spain Thursday.

Catalonia's regional police force is under orders to arrest the mayors if they refuse to appear for questioning, State Prosecutor Jose Manuel Maza's office said. The order has exacerbated an already tense situation, but there is still room for it to worsen. The government warned the region would lose access to some public funds if it was found to be using state money to organize the vote. "A legal referendum with all the necessary democratic guarantees simply will not happen", Antonio Barroso, a senior political risk analyst at research firm Teneo Intelligence, told TWW.

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Polls suggest that support for independence is far from overwhelming. There is no official "no" campaign for the October 1 referendum, as most of the regional and national opposition are refusing to participate in the vote.

Meanwhile, Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria says Thursday no dialogue is possible with the Catalan authorities until they back down from their plans for a vote.

Citizens also are divided over the independence issue.

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