Juncker: I'd respect a Catalan Yes vote

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Parties that oppose secession will not take part in the campaign for the referendum, which was declared illegal by Spain's Constitutional Court, and have asked their supporters to boycott the vote.

In a boost for the credibility of the referendum, the mayor of Barcelona said earlier on Thursday that the vote would go ahead in the city, having previously expressed concern that civil servants involved may lose their jobs.

Budget Minister Cristobal Montoro said the Catalan authorities could not be trusted to spend the money on public services rather than the planned vote. "That's what the spending control means and that will be in place as long as the exceptional situation continues", Montoro added.

On Thursday, Catalan regional Vice President Oriol Junqueras said the arrangement implied "political control" and had nothing to do with budget stability, though Montoro on Friday disagreed, saying the measures were within budget stability rules. The central government had ordered them in July to scrutinize that public funds were not being used on the illegal vote.

They were promptly rejected with government spokesman Inigo Mendez de Vigo telling reporters: "It's ironic coming from those who have refused dialogue save for a very specific issue - the only one they care about - the independence referendum".

The defiance by Catalan separatists — and the pressure put on them by the government in Madrid — has escalated since the regional parliament paved the way for the October 1 referendum last week.

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Among the most populated cities, many will not get involved, and question marks remain over the biggest of them all - Barcelona. A political dialogue, from legitimacy that each one represents, to make possible what democracy is never a problem, nor still less a crime: "listen to voice of citizens". The Spanish king Felipe VI said on Wednesday (13 September) that the Constitution would prevail in case of any breach, and that the rights of all Spaniards would be preserved.

Madrid has the constitutional power to take over a regional government or send in the police to force Catalonia to drop the vote, but either step would rock Spain's decentralised model of government where power is devolved to 17 self-governed regions.

The letter accused the Spanish state of "an unprecedented repression offensive".

On Thursday, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that in the event Catalonia gains independence, it would not be able to become an EU member state immediately after the referendum and would have to follow the same accession process to be admitted to the European Union as those countries that had entered the bloc since 2004.

Most of Catalonia's 5.5 million voters want to have a say on the region's relationship with Spain, but the independence cause has lost support in recent years and surveys now indicate less than half the population would choose full self-rule.