Spain Says "Referendum Won't Happen", To Shut Barcelona Airspace After Catalan Separatists Unveil Ballot Boxes

The Spanish government reiterated its angry rhetoric this morning that the "Catalan referendum won't happen" with Íñigo Méndez de Vigo saying "organizers will be held responsible," after they unveiled the ballot boxes and discussed the 2,315 polling stations to be used.

Madrid, which claims the authority of a constitution that declares the country to be indivisible, remained implacably opposed to the vote. As Reuters reports,

“I insist that there will be no referendum on Oct. 1,” central government spokesman Mendez de Vigo told a news conference following the weekly cabinet meeting, reiterating that the vote was illegal.

It appears the Catalans are ignoring him...

In a sign that large crowds are again expected on the streets on Sunday, department store chain El Corte Ingles said it would shut three stores in central Barcelona. The central government said airspace above the city would be partly restricted.


Lines of tractors draped in the red-and-yellow striped Catalan flag left provincial towns on Friday, planning to converge on Barcelona in a sign of support for the referendum.


Catalonia's vice president says more than six out of ten voters are expected to cast ballots during the region's independence referendum despite the Spanish government's aggressive efforts to stop the vote. As AP reports,

Oriol Junqueras said Friday that Catalan citizens will be able to vote on Sunday "even if somebody takes voting stations by assault and tries to avoid something as natural as placing a voting slip in a ballot."


Spain's Constitution says that only the nation's government can call a referendum on sovereignty. Police forces acting on judges' orders have seized ballots and arrested regional officials in an unprecedented crackdown.


Junqueras says an internal poll showed that more than 60 percent of the 5.3 million eligible voters plan to cast ballots.

As TheSpainReport reports, after weeks of speculation, Catalan regional government ministers unveiled the ballot boxes they mean to use for the suspended referendum vote this Sunday.

The ballot boxes are made of grey and black opaque plastic.



During a press conference before the unveiling of the ballot boxes, Deputy First Minister Oriol Junqueras said there would be 2,315 polling stations on Sunday, with 6,239 voting tables, and that there were 7,235 people involved in organising the referendum.


"Neither the Catalan government nor Catalan citizens are doing anything wrong", he said.

Fascinatingly, Bloomberg reports that Spain’s aviation authority will restrict airspace over Barcelona during the weekend of illegal referendum on Catalan independence.

Step is in line with policy during events that attract large crowds such as major soccer matches or demonstrations, spokesman for Public Works Ministry says by phone.

Of course, enforcing the government's wishes falls to the local police, and as The Wall Street Journal notes, they continue to see their loyalties tested...

Since it was established in the 1980s, Mossos has been one of the most visible symbols of Catalonia’s autonomy, answering directly to the Catalan Interior Ministry rather than to Madrid. Among the other 16 Spanish autonomous regions, the Basque Country is the only other to have a fully independent police force.


Some Mossos officials and other people familiar with the matter say Mossos won’t stop people from voting Sunday as long as there’s a sizable number of voters inside polling stations, which those officials believe would give officers public-order grounds not to intervene.


“Some of the measures asked by prosecutors can’t be followed without creating a bigger conflict than the one they say they want to prevent,” Joaquim Forn, Catalonia’s regional interior minister, said in an interview.

Catalan leader Puigdemont called on the police not to act in a “political” way when carrying out their duties on Sunday.

“I would like them to use the same standards that the Catalan regional police use. Not political standards, not on political orders, but policing and professional standards,” he said.

The Wall Street Journal explains how they believe the Catalan Independence vote is likely to play out...

What can be expected from the referendum?

The government of Catalonia, a wealthy region in northeastern Spain with a distinct history and language, is forging ahead with an independence referendum, even though Spain’s constitutional court has suspended the vote and the central government has declared it illegal. Spanish officials, prosecutors and judges have launched an all-out effort to block it by sending thousands of police to the region to confiscate ballots and ballot boxes, shutting down pro-referendum websites and arresting Catalan officials. Even though police have orders to stop the vote, the Catalan government has said it will still go ahead.


Will police try to stop the vote from taking place?

Madrid has sent about 4,000 national police officers to the region, with orders to seal polling stations. But that may not be enough to stop the ballot in many sites, especially if the Catalan police corps claim public-order grounds to avoid intervening when a sizable number of voters are present. Pro-independence supporters plan to occupy polling stations starting Friday, but police might still succeed in sealing off a few of them. This could force some attendees to hold a makeshift vote instead.


What is the result likely to be?

The latest official poll showed the independence camp has lost some support over the past three years: 35% of Catalans want independence, compared with 49% in 2013. But a survey earlier this month by Catalan pro-independence newspaper ARA found that almost 70% of those who are planning to vote are in favor of secession. However, because Madrid and pro-union parties have declared the referendum illegal, those supporting Catalonia remaining part of Spain are likely to boycott the vote, suggesting a result in favor of secession is more likely.


If the vote is in favor of independence, then what?

That is unclear. Catalonia’s regional president, Carles Puigdemont, has promised to declare independence. But a unilateral move is unlikely to have international recognition, and members of Mr. Puigdemont’s own party have denied a declaration of independence will happen. Such an attempt would likely drive Madrid to seize control of the regional government, although some still hope Barcelona—the Catalan capital—and Madrid could sit down to negotiate a resolution to the region’s grievances. Regardless, pro-independence activists are planning large demonstrations and possibly a general strike aimed at pressuring Madrid to offer a negotiated path toward separation or compelling the European Union to mediate.

Will the economy and financial markets be disrupted?
So far, investors have shown only moderate concern, with Catalan bank stocks struggling a bit. Spain’s borrowing costs have widened slightly relative to Germany’s, with investment banks like J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. recommending investors sell some Spanish bonds. Economic data are strong for both Spain and Catalonia, but a prolonged general strike in the region could hamper the recovery. Were Catalonia to separate, ratings companies warn that Spain could have trouble to repay its debts, since Catalonia makes up 19% of Spanish gross domestic product, but Catalans could face significant financial disruption during their transition toward independence.

Spanish equity markets have been paying attention...

But for now, as Citi notes, while Catalan bonds have weakened, the referendum has not been a focus of FX markets; but it appears the Spanish authorities are getting anxious.

As Bloomberg reports, lenders who may be holding their breath over Spain’s secessionist upheaval can sleep calmly.

The central government will guarantee payment to all creditors of the Catalan regional administration, according to a Budget Ministry official.

Regardless of Catalan separatists’ attempts to hold an illegal referendum for independence on Sunday and possibly declare independence from Spain, the ministry will make sure banks, suppliers and civil servants keep getting paid on time, the official said.

Finally, and entirely unexpectedly, Brussels has very much come down on the side of Madrid with AP reporting that European Union officials have ruled out helping to mediate the clash between Spain's government and Catalan officials over Catalonia's upcoming independence referendum.

European Parliament President Antonio Tajani said at an EU summit in Estonia on Friday that the dispute is "a Spanish problem in which we can do little. It's a problem of respecting Spanish laws that Spaniards have to resolve."


Catalan officials, including the mayor of Barcelona, have asked the EU to mediate the tense standoff ahead of Sunday's planned vote that Spanish authorities say is illegal.


Tajani says the EU is maintaining its support of Spain's government because "on a legal level, Madrid is right."


He says: "I think it's important to talk on a political level after Monday."

Of note is the fact that The EU has said Catalonia will be ejected from the bloc, if it declares independence.


JimmyJones Tsipras the Great Fri, 09/29/2017 - 11:09 Permalink

Wow, here in the good old US of A, we can have a township secede from a county, a County from a State, even a State from the Nation although the last time that was attempted we had a civil war.  So I guess its civil war time in Spain.  Stupid, if they don't want to be part of Spain then Spain should just say, "Well this is what you owe as part of the National debt we have and good riddance"

In reply to by Tsipras the Great

Keyser y3maxx Fri, 09/29/2017 - 20:18 Permalink

If Spain shuts down the referendum, then Catalonians need to revert to the only tool they have left, which is to refuse to pay any and all taxes to the Spanish government... Nothing the Spanish government could do would prop up the dying regime as forcing compliance with tax laws would bankrupt the nation... You fuck me now and I'll make sure you get fucked for life... 

In reply to by y3maxx

Overflow Theta_Burn Fri, 09/29/2017 - 12:48 Permalink

Nothing against none of those people (while they don't force anyone to witness their performances), just wanted to point you and other ZH'ers this is not a "freedom" or "liberation" of an "opressed people of Catalonia or bs like that. Catalonia has ALWAY been part of Spain sice the very beginning, they has NEVER been so rich, free and self-governed.  Spain is one f the most de-centralized countries in the world with a front-end liberal legislation. What'd happend with people defyng such way the Federal Gov of USA? 700 OccupyWallSt. thugs arrested in two hours.  In France, UK, Germany?   well, in those countries it's simply illegal to hava a secessionist party, that's all.  In Spain, with all this crisis, no arrested, none hurt, police just standing insults and low level violence, hut to keep things calmed. Remeber your Black Lives Matter movement.  How they play victims by reversing out the crude reality, to fool people to defend the agressor and attack the victim. 

In reply to by Theta_Burn

Gorgeous Xredsx Fri, 09/29/2017 - 13:07 Permalink

That's why there are no paid, armed, and CIA-led, agitators burning stuff and shooting people to get a government response which would lead directly to the NATO fight song, (key of c# minor)The evil dicator... is murdering... his own people, yaAnd we must stand this...naked aggression, oh yaTo protect...our democratic....values, ya, yaAnd because of Putin..., oh ya! That and there is no oil.

In reply to by Xredsx

Sauron Government nee… Fri, 09/29/2017 - 12:05 Permalink

Difficult to say. In terms of fighting.....I envision a bunch of a few thousand Catalans willing to fight (there are decades-long history of violent anarchists and communists in Catalonia, today living under the CUP umbrella grabbing by the balls the Catalan Government).On the rest of Spain...probably a somewhat bigger %. And since the population base is higher...we are talking much more people. Millions? Doubt it.Then there is the military. Obviously they would follow orders. Then again, they have sworn the Constitution stating that they are in directly charge of defending the integrity of Spain's territory.Does this answer your question?

In reply to by Government nee…

LightBulb18 LawsofPhysics Fri, 09/29/2017 - 11:30 Permalink

I agree the european union and the united nations have interest depicting A break from 'unity' unacceptable and unthinkable, in the stupid odious way they do, but let me tell you, considering how spain has behaved over this whole affair I am totally rooting for the catalonians. I don't think people should be able to secede any time they run into A disagreement, which I suppose means making things hard for them, but the catolinians have their own language, A big deal in how you measure things. People will say religions A big deal, and how they feel about freedom from criticism is too, but be honest language trumps that, because you are talking about A separate track entirely, A separate news, school, history and feeling of brotherhood that inevitably remains. Also, I am very pleased that inequality in standards of living are being forced to be talked about due to the catalonians having A much better economy than the spanish, unity is oppressive if it is an excuse for robbing people and denying them the right to talk about it. Clearly there are billions of people not able to establish first world standards of living as A group on average, so the more we talk about that the less time we all suffer under fascism. In G-d I trust. 

In reply to by LawsofPhysics

Albertarocks Fri, 09/29/2017 - 11:09 Permalink

The "establishment" is scared shitless because their "new world order" plan is breaking down.  Brexit for example.  Italy, France, Greece... all of them are flat broke and all of them have been overrun by muslim hooligans... all by design as part of the 'new world order' style of business.  The Catalonians have said "fuck that" and they are not going to take no for an answer.  Expect fireworks.  And expect other regions to follow in Catalonia's footsteps.  Regions such as... say... Italy.  That way any country that leaves the EU can take back control of its borders and expel all the muslims that Belgium shipped to them illegally.  Buy them a plane ticket, fly them back to their country of origin and drop them off from 20,000 feet.  As they say in the British air force, "Bums away."

GreatUncle Winston Churchill Fri, 09/29/2017 - 11:49 Permalink

It is going down either way ... you are back to the "only" concept ...1.) You go down under some form of system where your people will have a say in the outcome, means representation when it turns bad.2.) You go down under tyranny, in this case Spanish technocracy where your people will have no say in the outcome when it turns bad and exactly how Spain is behaving right now.Same shit only difference is who is going to be in charge after it collapses.If other areas because of the lack of representation under this fraudulent technocracy start wanting out THEN WHO WILL BE PAYING THE DEBT?That is all BREXIT it and even TRUMP was, unless you have found a magic money tree owned by a CB with no debt attached somewhere in this world.Why BREXIT or TRUMP cannot and will not change anything of meaning without the house of cards collapsing.

In reply to by Winston Churchill

Oldwood Albertarocks Fri, 09/29/2017 - 11:12 Permalink

Does this drive for independence scare them, or does it serve a greater purpose....chaos.Simply look at how it has worked out. The financial system is breaking down while still 100% effective in the transfer of wealth to a very small number of people. Desperation is what gives them power over us, and civil unrest will only accelerate this process. Does anyone really think that these independence moves will yield positive wealth creation and distribution in the aggregate?

In reply to by Albertarocks

Albertarocks Oldwood Fri, 09/29/2017 - 13:49 Permalink

No I think a breakup of the EU will spell the end of their dreams.  All markets would crash, most importantly the bond markets.  And that would create chaos alright, beyond our wildest fears.  But it also spells the end of their banking monopoly.  No more money for them.  No more money for black ops.  No more money for chemtrailing the shit out of the world.  Eventually they'd even run out of war money.A fresh start... and this time we do it right, on a gold standard... like the great plan that China will be unveiling at the end of this year.  Nope, I don't think we should read too much 'conspiracy theory' into what's happening.  The bankers are on very thin ice.  And that's a good thing in the long run.  The planet might survive after all.

In reply to by Oldwood

Oldwood CH1 Fri, 09/29/2017 - 12:36 Permalink

So, there IS no plan. Government controlled central banks are buying up assets and claiming title to everything else through debt instruments, and it is THEY screwing up?You must be assuming people will ultimately organize against them, but seem to ignore the whole point of the deliberate division being created, forcing dissimilar cultures onto each other while insisting some fictional "multiculturalism" will bridge rather than exacerbate those differences, pushing to end racism and radicalism while doing all in their power to foster and propagate it.No, make no mistake, THEY ARE WINNING.

In reply to by CH1

CH1 Oldwood Fri, 09/29/2017 - 16:44 Permalink

make no mistake, THEY ARE WINNING.Really? Then why didn't they kill the Internet in 1989, when it was easy?Why didn't they kill Bitcoin when it was easy?Why couldn't they kill encryption - when they were beaten by a rag-tag bunch of nerds and teenagers?Why do so many of these Almighty geniuses attack Russia (in the late summer!) and Afghanistan?And so on. Imagine their omnipotence all you like, but it's stopping you from acting in your own interests.

In reply to by Oldwood

Oldwood Fri, 09/29/2017 - 11:07 Permalink

You can tell their education system is on par with ours, or they would have read about how the American civil war got started. Slavery was but the tip of the spear. The right of independence was what it was about. The perception of "greater good", that of unity being more "profitable" than apart.They do this, they take away our independence, for our own good. Remember that. For our own good

cherry picker Fri, 09/29/2017 - 11:07 Permalink

No one should have the power to prevent a people's of any region to determine how they shall be governed or by who they choose to lead them.Nations will commit genocide to prevent the true democratic process.