Catalonia: Polls close after tumultuous vote

Despite police crackdown, thousands of people throughout Catalonia voted in controversial independence referendum

Catalonia: Polls close after tumultuous vote

World Bulletin / News Desk

After a tumultuous day of voting, marked by several clashes with police in Catalonia, the polls for the controversial independence referendum closed at 8 p.m. (1800GMT) Sunday.

Yet, thousands of activists remained outside the voting centers during the recount, acting as a human barrier to prevent Spanish police from forcibly removing the ballot boxes. Other centers were reported to have closed earlier than the scheduled time for fear that the Spanish police would disrupt the counting process.

“The absolute irresponsibility of the Catalan government has had to be replaced by the professionality of the police and security forces,” said Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, Spanish deputy prime minister in a press conference earlier on Sunday, adding that a so-called “referendum” did not occur.

From early Sunday morning until the evening, 761 people required medical assistance due to injuries sustained during the vote, according to the Catalan government, after anti-riot police broke through crowds to remove the ballot boxes and stop the vote. Nearly half of those hospitalized were in Barcelona. The Interior Ministry says 11 police officers were injured.

Of the 2,315 voting centers planned for sunday’s vote, mostly in schools, 319 were closed unexpectedly, mostly through police force, according to the Catalan government. Technological difficulties also plagued much of the morning, although in the afternoon voting continued throughout Catalonia.

“It’s like a dream, if you didn’t think about what happened you could almost think it was a normal referendum,” said Josep, 29, outside of a school that was not taken by police.

As the votes are counted, the results are predictable, but what unclear is the turnout. While some people did vote against a Catalan Republic, the majority of those against independence boycotted Sunday’s vote, which was deemed illegal by various courts, prosecutors and the Spanish central government.

“Really results are the least important thing at the moment after what happened today… but I want the referendum to have a life of its own and to defend it,” said Monste Sabat, an activist who slept overnight at a voting center in central Barcelona.

The Spanish government remains firm that this will not be a legitimate vote no matter what happens.

Last Mod: 02 Ekim 2017, 00:09
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