Tension builds in Spain as Catalans defy Madrid over ballot

Catalans with estelada or independence flags gather during the Catalan National Day in Barcelona, Spain, Monday Sept. 11, 2017. Hundreds of thousands

MADRID (AP) — A mounting confrontation between Catalan and Spain's national leaders over a planned independence referendum in the Catalonia region is gripping Spain.

Spain's central government is using judicial measures to try to stop the planned Oct. 1 ballot, which it insists is unconstitutional, but regional authorities are trying to sidestep the legal obstacles.

Regional president Carles Puigdemont tells broadcaster TV3 the national government in Madrid has created a "climate of hostility and paranoia" around the planned ballot.

Meanwhile, Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria says Thursday no dialogue is possible with the Catalan authorities until they back down from their plans for a vote.

A judge shut down the referendum website late Wednesday but minutes later it reappeared using a different server.