The elections will be held in January. Spain is set to impose direct rule on Catalonia as its leader has refused to back down from his independence plan.
Catalonia's leader faces increased pressure as a Madrid-imposed deadline looms for him to decide whether he is going to defy international pleas for unity by declaring independence or back down and unleash the wrath of his separatist allies.
Spain’s Constitutional Court has suspended the vote and the national government calls it illegal. But Catalan authorities have pledged to declare independence within 48 hours of Sunday’s vote if the ‘yes’ side wins, no matter what the turnout is.
Spain's central government has sent about 10,000 extra police officers to Catalonia for the referendum.
Thousands gather at the gates of Catalonia's judicial body in Barcelona to demand the release of a dozen officials arrested in connection with the vote on independence that Spanish authorities are challenging as illegal.
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