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Barcelona's local residents 'occupy' schools ahead of Catalan independence vote

Preparations for the independence referendum in the Catalonia region of Spain are underway. On the threshold of the vote, people are determined to go ahead with a referendum, safeguarding the right to express their opinion as a part of peaceful democratic procedure, APA reports quoting Sputnik.


Activists and local residents have "occupied" a majority of schools in Barcelona, which tomorrow will be turned into polling stations for a disputed Catalan independence referendum, a Sputnik correspondent reported.

 

Locals are using festive activities, district fiestas and street festivals as a pretext tokeep school doors open through the night until Sunday morning, when, at 9:00 a.m. local time (7:00 GMT), a designated electoral administration will arrive to open polling stations across the city.


At the school site of the Barcelona's Gracia district, local residents are getting ready to celebrate by preparing a huge paella.


According to a local resident and father whose kids are attending the school in Garcia district, local police "mossas" have already visited the school, established the peaceful nature of the party, and left.

 

"People, who gathered here, are not only the supporters of the Catalan independence. In fact, some of us will vote against. We just want to cast our ballots somewhere peacefully, that is why we are here to keep this public place open," Jofre Mateu told Sputnik at the Josep M Jujol Garcia school premises.


He noted that at the school premises local parents were planning on staying in the school the whole night.

 

"There are a lot of locals here, fathers and mothers, who take their kids to this school. We are organizing a weekend festival in school and plan to stay here through the night," he said.


When asked about the referendum outcome, he said that he was pretty sure that Catalonia would vote overwhelmingly for its independence.
Jofre said that he did not expect any disorder or violence on Sunday noting that people were occupying the public places beginning Friday in a peaceful and festive manner.


Another local resident told Sputnik that she had not made her mind yet whether she would vote "Yes" or "No."

 

"I don't know how I would vote tomorrow. I don't even know if they will let us to vote. Both governments have acted wrongly in this situation. Our governments should agree on something, negotiate a deal instead of putting all the responsibility on the Catalan people's shoulders and obliging them to act illegally and be subjected to fines," Maria said.

 

When asked about a likely outcome of the referendum, she noted that it was hard to predict, as the Catalan society was polarized along political lines. However, Maria noted that she expected the "Yes" vote to win, explaining that those people who wanted to stay united with Madrid would stay at home and not vote.


On Sunday, Catalonia is expected to hold an independence referendum. The Spanish federal government has filed a complaint with the country's Constitutional Court over the Catalan government and parliament approving the law on the independence vote. The court has taken the complaint under review, outlawing the plebiscite.


According to the latest poll, released by the National newspaper, if the Spanish government was to boycott the referendum, 83 percent of voters would vote for independence, with voter turnout reaching 62 percent. Therefore, the total number of voters who would say "yes" to independence would reach 2.7 million people, while the number of those who would vote against might amount to 527,000 people.

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