The Catalonia crisis is expected to reach new heights on Thursday with Spain looking likely to use its so-called "nuclear option" against the region, unless there is a last-minute change of heart from the pro-separatist leadership.
Catalonia's leader Carles Puigdemont has until 10 a.m. local time Thursday morning (9:00 a.m. London time) to withdraw the declaration of independence he made — albeit ambiguously — last week.
Puigdemont refused to clarify his government's intentions at an earlier deadline on Monday, at which point the Spanish government gave him one last chance to retract his equivocal response.
If there is no last-minute change of heart, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is likely to invoke Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution — its "nuclear option" which would allow Madrid to take control of the region, following approval from the Spanish Senate.
"All I ask of Mr. Puigdemont is that he acts with good sense," Rajoy told the Spanish parliament in Madrid on Wednesday.
As the latest and perhaps last deadline nears, it looks unlikely that Puigdemont will back down, however.