Spanish PM Rajoy demands clarity from Catalonia on Independence

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But he proposed the regional parliament suspend the declaration's effects to leave room for dialogue and to help reduce tensions surrounding Spain's worst political crisis in decades. The Spanish Parliament are meeting this morning to address the latest moves in the crisis.

Here is the status of the standoff between the affluent, industrial region of Catalonia and the central Spanish government in Madrid.

The Generalitat can not assume the October 1´s results because that was an illegal and fraudulent act, he stressed in reference to the sovereign consultation, banned by the TC at the request of Rajoy administration.

Leaders of Catalonia say the referendum results were 90 percent in favor of secession, but with a turnout of about half of registered voters. Videos of police pulling voters out by their hair and kicking them on stairs flashed around the world.

About 2.3 million Catalans, or 43 per cent of the electorate in the wealthy northeastern region, voted in the referendum. Nevertheless, on Tuesday, Catalan President Carles Puigdemont gave a carefully worded speech in which he said that he had the "mandate" to declare independence but that he wanted to delay any repercussions to allow time for talks with Madrid.

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"I'm calling on the sensible people in the Catalan government ... don't jump off the edge because you'll take the people with you", Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said in an interview with COPE radio station.

If independence had been declared, said Sánchez, then the PSOE would back the actions of the Spanish government.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of residents have thronged onto the streets every September 11, a Catalan holiday, to demand independence.

The ensuing crisis, he said, was "one of the most hard times in our recent history".

It's not clear what might happen if Catalonia does actually try to secede.

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Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy took the first step on Wednesday towards suspending Catalonia's political autonomy and ruling the region directly to thwart a push for independence.

Rajoy could choose to trigger constitution article 155, which allows Madrid to impose control over its devolved regions - an unprecedented move many fear could lead to unrest.

A split raises dozens of questions with no answers yet.

Losing Catalonia, which has its own language and culture, would deprive Spain of a fifth of its economic output and more than a quarter of exports.

The European Union has also shown no interest in an independent Catalonia, despite an appeal by Mr Puigdemont for Brussels to mediate in the crisis. To get back in, it would have to re-apply - a lengthy and uncertain process.

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