Police seal off designated polling stations on eve of Catalan referendum

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"If it doesn't take an interest in what is happening in Catalonia when everyone is watching and taking an interest, there's something wrong". Kouloglou will observe Sunday's vote and has spoken with Catalan officials, who complained about "very brutal violations of the democratic rights" by Madrid.

Catalan daily La Vanguardia reported that the schools had planned activities such as pajama parties, dance classes, games, outdoor cinema and sports to keep everyone entertained as the clock counts down to Sunday's independence vote, which has been deemed illegal by Spanish authorities.

Jordi Turull, the Catalan executive's spokesman, said Friday in Barcelona that nearly 7,000 volunteers are ready to open 2,315 polling stations across the region of 7.5 million people.

A government official told the Associated Press that as of Saturday, parents had camped out with their children in at least 163 schools across the region.

"We believe it is good that these species will remain open, that they not close", he added.

Pro-independence lawmakers hope the northeastern region will gain complete political and economic autonomy from Spain despite the referendum putting Catalonia in open defiance of central authorities in Madrid.

Puigdemont reiterated his call on the Spanish government to negotiate over holding a legal, binding referendum, and again promised to call the entire vote off if the state agreed.

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Puigdemont though insisted that his government had "everything in place so that everything takes place normally". In a sign that large crowds are expected on the streets on Sunday, department store chain El Corte Ingles said it would shut three stores in central Barcelona. More than 2,300 polling stations would be set up for 5.3 million voters, Catalan government spokesman Jordi Turull said.

Referendum organizers asked voters to turn up at 7 a.m. ahead of the polls opening at 9 a.m.

"Act in a peaceful way and do no respond to any provocation, from other citizens or from police". Many complain that Catalonia ends up subsidizing other parts of Spain.

The rise of the Catalan separatist movement may be a outcome of Rajoy's party's hardline policy on the region's autonomy, the political scientist said. Over six thousand ballot boxes will be used, and there are more than 2,300 polling stations across the region.

Also on Friday, a judge on Catalonia's High Court ordered Google to delete a smartphone application which the Catalan government was using to spread information about the vote. While the referendum has gained massive support, including from former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola, the Spanish Prime Minister has declared the vote as "illegal". Police have been ordered to stop ballots from being cast on Sunday and have been cracking down for days, confiscating millions of ballots and posters.

He claimed that after the raid at the CTTI communications and technology centre people would also not be able to apply to vote online.

"That is the rule of law — you abide by the law and the constitution even if you don't like it", he said.

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