The Spanish government announced Thursday it's going to start the process for imposing direct rule on Catalonia.
The government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said in a statement it plans to invoke Article 155 of Spain's constitution. That allows Spain to forcibly remove Catalonia's regional government from office.
Rajoy's Council of Ministers are scheduled to meet Saturday to draw up a list of measures under Article 155. According to the BBC, those measures could include calling for a snap election and taking control of Catalonia's regional police. Those measures would then need to be approved by a majority of the Senate.
This is an unprecedented move — the Spanish government has never invoked Article 155.
This move comes after Rajoy set a deadline for Catalan President Carles Puigdemont to definitively answer if Catalonia declared independence Oct. 10.
On that day, Puigdemont announced Catalonia won the right to independence from Spain, but he put any official actions to make that happen on hold.
So instead of clarifying his declaration, Puigdemont sent a letter stating the Catalan parliament could vote on a formal declaration of independence if Madrid "continues to impede dialogue."
The question of Catalonia's independence came after the region held a referendum Oct. 1 in which 90 percent of voters favored separating from Spain. Voter turnout was almost 43 percent. The Spanish government argues the referendum itself was illegal.