Politics | September 30, 2017 5:00 am

Catalonia Prepares for Independence Vote on Sunday

Hundreds of Spanish police officers have been sent to the region.

Carles Puigdemont, Catalonia leader
President of the Catalan regional government Carles Puigdemont (2R) and Josep Lluis Trapero (R), chief of the Catalan regional police on September 10, 2017 in Barcelona.(Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images)
AFP/Getty Images

Carles Puigdemont was a “last-minute and accidental arrival through the back door” in the leadership elections in Catalonia last year. But now, he is leading the charge for an independence referendum on Sunday, writes the New York Times

Puigdemont, 54, was a “compromise choice” in the election to break a deadlock among separatist parties. He could be barred from politics and go to prison for misusing public money if the independence vote does go on this weekend. The Spanish courts have ordered the vote be suspended, the New York Times reports. Catalonia’s previous leader, Artus Mas, was barred from public office for organizing a ballot in 2014. But Puigdemont does not care. He believes that Catalonia, along with its culture, history, and language, should be independent of Spain.

Puigdemont has recently moved the conversation from the issue of independence to the issue of statehood. Catalans are split on independence, but most seem to agree on statehood, the Times reports.

Puigdemont started calling for separation from Spain back in the early 1980s. He is “determined to have Catalans vote on Sunday.” The New York Times writes that if Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy thought Puigdemont would be “easily pliable,” he was very wrong. If the referendum does not happen, the Times writes that Puigdemont will shift the blame for Spain’s constitutional crisis onto Rajoy, who he has already accused of ignoring Catalans in the name of the Spanish Constitution.

Rajoy has called the referendum a “crazy project” and has said all it will do is lead to noise, the Times reports. He has accused the separatists of encouraging civil disobedience. Hundreds of police officers have been sent to Catalonia. Police have taken ballot papers and other election-related material. Polling stations are to remain closed.