If a declaration of independence is pursued at this further deadline, Rajoy has said he would be ready to invoke Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution which would allow him to sack the regional government and call for fresh elections.

This scenario is still likely, according to analysts.

“If the Catalan government chooses a hard line, we expect that Article 155 will be triggered (there are three more days for that to happen, with a final deadline set for next Thursday). While it is difficult to predict the exact contours of its implementation, we foresee that in due time a new regional election will be called in an attempt to restore the normal institutional set up,” JPMorgan economist Marco Protopapa said in a note last week looking ahead to the deadline.

The Catalonia government ā€” which had been emboldened to pursue independence following a non-binding referendum in the region in which a majority of voters voted for secession ā€” had subsequently been weakened, in Protopapa’s view, by a fracture within the pro-independence camp between more radical hard-liners and more moderate elements calling for dialogue with Spain.

In addition, a number of high profile businesses have threatened to relocate out of the northeastern region and the European Union has said an independent Catalonia would find itself isolated, outside the bloc.

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