Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
Juan Medina/Reuters

Spain will trigger Article 155 of its constitution over Catalonia this Saturday.

The article, dubbed the "nuclear option," will allow Madrid to suspend Catalonia's political autonomy.

It has never been invoked before.

Tensions between Spain and Catalonia go back centuries.

Spain will start suspending Catalonia's autonomy on Saturday, the Prime Minister's office has said

Cabinet ministers will meet on Saturday to put in place Article 155 of the country's constitution, which will allow Madrid to take control of Catalonian political affairs.

It comes after Carles Puigdemont, the president of Catalonia, failed to clarify whether or not the region had declared independence after a contentious referendum that saw the region's population vote overwhelmingly to separate from Spain.

The Spanish africanmango900 come si usa government originally set the region a Monday deadline to clarify whether or not it had declared independence, but Puigdemont failed to do so. Spain set another deadline for Thursday morning, but this was again not met by Catalonia.

Article 155 has never been invoked in the Spanish constitution's 39-year history and has been dubbed Madrid's "nuclear option" in the Catalonia crisis.

Although the article's language is vague
— it allows the government to "take the necessary measures" if an autonomous region "seriously undermines the general interest of Spain" — Madrid can, in theory, take control of Catalonia's police, finances, and replace its current administration with a new one, Reuters noted

The ratings agency Moody's said Article 155 was one reason why Catalonia's independence wouldn't take place, according to the Financial Times

"The government will do everything in its power to restore legality and constitutional order as soon as possible, to restore peaceful coexistence among citizens and to curb the economic deterioration that legal insecurity is causing in Catalonia," Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said in a statement.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont signing a "symbolic" declaration of independence in Barcelona.
Albert Gea/Reuters

The Catalonian referendum, which took place on October 1, saw about 2.2 million Catalonians — or 43% of the region's electorate — vote by a 90% margin to leave Spain.

Thousands of police officers sent by Madrid to the region wielded batons and fired rubber bullets into demonstrators that day, leaving hundreds of people injured. The Spanish government has since apologised for the police violence

More than a week after the vote Puigdemont signed a "symbolic" declaration of independence
, then immediately suspended it
, to allow exit negotiations with Madrid.

The Spanish government has continuously refused to negotiate with Catalonia over its independence, and views the referendum as unconstitutional. According to the Washington Post
, the constitution "does not recognise the right to self-determination and establishes that sovereignty resides with Spanish citizens collectively."


History of Catalonia's independence

An Estelada (Catalan separatist flag) and Spanish flag hang from balconies in Barcelona.
Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

Located in northeastern Spain, near the French border, Catalonia has its own language, culture, and traditions. Its tensions with Spain have existed for at least three centuries, and the region played a key role in the Spanish Civil War.

According to the Telegraph
, Spanish rulers have attempted to impose the Spanish language and laws on the region since the 18th century. They finally ceded powers to the region in 1931, and the Generalitat de Catalunya ("Government of Catalonia") was africanmango900 come si usa created.

During the civil war, however, General Francisco Franco took control of the region in 1938, killing 3,flexin 500 come si usa people, and forcing more into exile. After the war, the nationalist Franco regime cracked down on hallu motion negozio Catalonia's language and institutions and curtailed its citizen's rights.

After Franco's death in 1975, Catalonia won back some control of its rights. Its autonomy was once more enshrined in the country's 1978 constitution
, which said the country was "indivisible" but respected territorial self-government. Catalonia was given the right to its own language, and control over healthcare and education, according to Bloomberg

Catalonia is one of Spain's economic powerhouses, and contributes nearly a fifth of the country's GDP, the FT noted
. Its GDP per capita is higher than Spain's, and its output is similar to those of Finland and Portugal.
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