IT’S Christmas in Catalonia too on 25th December. You can tell by the shop windows and by those manically rushing around and buying the stuff we all do at this time of year.

We’ve actually been on a level four terrorist alert here for months, but rather than combatting terrorism, Spain is using police resources to rather absurdly remove yellow ribbons from Christmas trees.

Yellow ribbons are something of a red rag to a bull as it turns out. Tell Anna, my wheelchair-bound friend who had her tyres deflated and her car gouged with keys because it had a yellow ribbon sticker on it. And that was when she was parked on her reduced mobility parking spot. But that hasn’t deterred her or thousands of others from sporting yellow ribbons in solidarity with Catalonia’s political prisoners.

Yes it’s Christmas, and for some, even now on election day, it’s just too much to comprehend that a curious man with a white beard and his whimsical entourage of subordinates have gifted Catalonia a plebiscite election. On a Thursday.

The man with the white beard in Madrid is more of a “no no no” sort of fellow than his legendary “ho ho ho” Lapland counterpart, and so the alarm bells are ringing. That’s no surprise with a ban on international observers, various reports of fake polling cards and other anomalies.

We’re told the electoral roll was closed months ago, and while that’s probably true, there’s a deep suspicion that foul play to some degree may be on the cards. The ban on observers only serves to strengthen that hypothesis, especially coming from a Spanish ruling party with over 900 ongoing corruption cases and a dozen premature deaths relating to the Gürtel corruption case alone, not to mention vice-president Sáez de Santamaría, who only this week bragged that Spain’s ruling PP party had “decapitated” indy forces (an implicit admission that separation of powers in Spain is a farce).

But let’s be optimistic. The vote is on, and pro-indy Catalans can choose between their elected yet exiled president (Puigdemont), his elected yet imprisoned vice-president and ERC party leader (Junqueras) and their unlikely but necessary pro-indy allies the CUP (nobody in jail yet but the unionists are working on it).

Nobody here is kidding themselves. We’re headed for a stalemate either way, but if the unionist camp wins, it’s on with the witch hunt following the previous election day on October 1, locking up adversaries, cutting funding for research and commerce, attacking heritage, linguistic models and more.

If the indy parties win, and despite everything being thrown against them they just might, the conundrum is how to ratify the existing indy declaration.

Madrid accepting it is a pipe dream. Forget it. But Europe, especially Europe, must act. Europe can and must take an effective stance, and should have done long ago. It’s what the indy camp, majority in hand, has been asking for all along.

An association of Catalan civil servants has compiled a report listing the damage that the forcibly imposed 155 takeover has meant for Catalonia and denouncing the illegality of the imposition and the degree of abuse by Rajoy. But it’s not enough for the case to reach EU courts in five years’ time and get a favourable ruling.

That will just be five years too late. The enigmatic man with the white beard, along with his whimsical entourage and their ongoing corruption cases, has gifted Catalonia yet another chance to reaffirm its desire for independence. At Christmas.

It will be a tight affair, but if in the face of adversity and oppression, the result is yet another “yes”, it’s time for Rajoy to finally step down and for Europe to act.