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Scaring the population.
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There were thousands of riot cops on hand, on ships in the harbour. If Madrid had wanted to, it could have confiscated every ballot box within minutes and, for good measure, jammed the smartphone app the Catalan authorities were using to tally the results against the electoral roll. But prime minister Mariano Rajoy wanted to send a subtler message: let the most fervent separatists have their vote and get their heads broken, while scaring the rest of the population into non-participation, including any waverers.

Paul Mason on The Guardian

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