Spain’s electoral authority has ordered Catalan president Quim Torra to remove all independence flags and yellow ribbons from public buildings within 48 hours. Following a complaint by unionist Ciutadans (Cs) party, the electoral authority ruled that the Catalan independence flags (known as ‘estelada’) and yellow ribbons (in support of jailed pro-independence leaders) are partisan symbols, although they don’t belong to any specific political party.

As Catalonia faces three elections between April and May, ‘estelades’ and yellow ribbons will be banned in public buildings as they should remain “politically neutral.” “They both are symbols which can be legitimately used by parties in their electoral campaign, but they can’t be used by public institutions, which should remain politically neutral” ruled the authority.

Spain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, warned Catalan president Quim Torra that the state has the “appropriate instruments to enforce the provisions of the institutions entrusted with ensuring the normal functioning of democracy”.