>> Spanish flags waving proudly, marking Spain's National Day on Thursday in a sign of unity after Catalonia's disputed independence referendum. While Spain's King Felipe watches troops match by, the country's biggest political crisis in decades is unfolding. In Barcelona, cafe chairs was thrown during scuffles between supporters of pro-Spanish unity, and pro-Catalan independence.
Tension mounting after Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy gave the Catalan government eight days to drop an independence bid which they deem illegal. If Catalan leader Carlos Puigdemont doesn't answer in time, Rajoy threatens to impose direct war on the autonomous region. That would mean Madrid could use a constitutional nuclear option, where Article 155 would be triggered, allowing Rajoy to sack the Catalan regional government and strip away the region's autonomy.
It's not clear if Catalan's government will answer but analysts say the pressure is now on Puigdemont. He issued a symbolic declaration of independence on Tuesday, but then immediately suspended it and called for negotiations. If Puigdemont clarifies that the independence bid stands, the central government will step in. If he says he did not declare it, the far-left party, CUP, would probably withdraw its support for his minority government.
Ninety percent of voters backed independence with a turnout of 43%. The stakes are high, losing Catalonia along with its own language and culture would deprive Spain of a fifth of its economic outputs, and more than a quarter of exports.