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Catalan mayors back holding independence vote

17 September 2017

More than 700 mayors from Catalonia met Saturday in Barcelona in a show of strength amid pressure from Spain's central government not to hold an independence referendum for the northeastern region.

Tensions are heating up ahead of the vote scheduled for October 1 despite opposition from Madrid and a Supreme Court ruling calling it illegal.

Catalonia's wealth and the substantial support for secession has led the central government toward increasingly desperate measures to stop the vote, including imposing direct control over most public services in Catalonia to prevent local government officials cooperating with the vote using any official funds. Organizing the referendum will be almost impossible without the cooperation of local municipalities.

"We will not be intimidated".

Catalonia is sharply divided, with a government poll in July finding that 41.1 percent of people were for and 49.4 percent against independence, although the vast majority agree to holding a referendum to decide the matter.

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According to July poll, only 41 percent of Catalans favor independence but almost 70 want a vote.

She pointed to the Edinburgh Agreement, signed in the build-up to the Scottish independence referendum, as to how governments can work together in such circumstances.

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.

Spanish police on Saturday seized printing materials meant to support and promote the referendum near Barcelona. Catalonia's top court has also warned seven newspapers against publishing campaign material.

They carried a large banner filled with "Yes" slogans, referring to the answer Catalan separatists want to give in the referendum that will ask voters whether they want the region to become an independent republic. Taxes, foreign affairs, defence and infrastructures are in the hands of Spain's central authorities.

Catalan mayors back holding independence vote