Spain Threatens 'Exceptional Measures' to Stop Catalonia Independence Vote

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Protesters carry Esteladas, Catalan separatist flags and Basque flags, during a rally in favour of a referendum on independence from Spain for the autonomous community of Catalonia, in the Basque city of Bilbao, Spain September 9, 2017.

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Thursday that the bloc will respect the choice of the Catalan people in case it is a "yes" vote in favor of Catalonia's independence.

Thousands of Basques holding banners that read "we want to decide" marched on Saturday (Sep 16) in support of Catalonia's independence referendum to separate from Madrid, which Basque separatists have long fought for.

Catalonia's regional government insists a vote will take place on October 1 but the Spanish government has vowed to block it, describing it as "unconstitutional". The Catalan government has been scrambling to push forward the vote, despite the central government's warnings that local municipalities are not allowed to use public buildings for it and mayors can be legally prosecuted for it.

The prosecutor general's office of Spain had on Wednesday ordered prosecutors in Catalonia to summon se mayors are willing to cooperate "in organizing elections illegal" to put m in review. If the mayors do not respond to the order, police should arrest them, the order said.

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"It's a disgrace that we have a government that is incapable of dialogue and instead dedicates itself to pursuing and intimidating mayors and the media", Colau said.

Police have also raided a printing house and several other premises in search of ballot papers and boxes as well as other materials to be used for the referendum.

The separatists are majority in regional parliament since 2015, but Catalan society is very divided on question of independence, according to opinion polls.

Fiona Hyslop, Scotland's external affairs secretary, said "all peoples have the right to self-determination and to choose the form of government best suited to their needs".

The "No" side won in the Scottish independence referendum.

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