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The atmosphere was different in Catalonia's regional capital Barcelona on Friday night, as huge crowds turned out to show their support for the independence campaign.

Sept 20, 2017 - National police arrest senior regional officials in an effort to stop the vote.

"Friends, so that victory is definite, on Sunday let's dress up in referendum (clothes) and leave home prepared to change history", Puigdemont said.

Seven and a half million people in Catalonia will take part in a referendum condemned as illegal by Spain's Constitutional Court.

The Election Monitoring Committee has been disbanded, and thousands of police officers have been deployed to block entry to the polls. The Court also instructed Google to delete an application that was issued to inform civilians on the vote.

More than 4000 members of the Guardia Civil and the national police force have been sent to Catalonia, while security forces have sealed off hundreds of polling stations. Along with firefighters, they have promised to protect polling stations from being shut.

Catalan authorities had hoped previously for a larger turnout than the 2.3 million people who voted in a mock referendum in 2014 in which 80 percent favored independence.

Parents in some of the occupied schools said police officers had told them they could stay as long as they were not doing anything connected with the referendum. In a later update, the ministry didn't provide a new figure but only said "some" schools remained occupied.

"We need to coordinate it to ensure that there are actually lengthy lines to provide the impression around the world that we're gonna vote", recommendations delivered to voters by it's planners explained. "Then, if "yes" or "no", it's up to each person".

Catalan referendum vote police
Riot police clashed with voters on Sunday. Getty Images

Radio Sputnik discussed Catalonia's upcoming referendum on independence from Spain with Dr. Oriol Bartomeus, a professor of political science at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

The Catalan police, or Mossos d'Esquadra, who are monitoring the schools, are held in great affection by the Catalan people, especially after Islamist attacks in the region in August that killed 16. In the past week, the Spanish state has been moving to close down any attempts of a referendum being held.

Despite the tension in the region, demonstrations by independence campaigners have been largely peaceful. Spain's Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, has said such a ballot would be invalid and in violation of Spain's constitution.

However, according to a law passed by a local parliament, Catalan leaders say they can declare independence from Spain within 48 hours of voting.

"We don't want division".

Added Raul Robert, 43, an industrial engineer: "I don't feel like an independentist nor Catalan, for that matter, but I think every people must be given the right to choose its own destiny".

"There is nothing in worldwide law that gives any region a right to self-determination in a democratic state". Puigdemont has said more than 6,000 were being kept in a secret place.

FC Barcelona have not spoken out yet about the consequences of the nation's potential independence.


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