Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy insists that Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, who heads the wealthy northeastern region's government, has broken the law several times in pushing for independence, thus justifying the imposition of central government control.
In an effort to derail the independence movement led by the separatist politicians, Rajoy is also seeking the Senate's approval next week to assume the power to call a regional election - something that only Catalonia's top leader can do at the moment.
The Spanish government moved to activate a previously untapped constitutional article Saturday so it can take control of Catalonia.
In particular, the Spanish government announced its decision to dissolve the Catalan government and hold a snap election to the regional parliament as soon as possible.
The attack on Saturday came as social media accounts linked to the Anonymous hacktivist group had launched a campaign to "free Catalonia".
Under Article 155 of Spain's constitution, Madrid has the power to wrest back control of rebellious regions, but it has never used it before.
Some 450,000 people took to the streets of Barcelona on Saturday, local police said, after Spain moved to dismiss Catalonia's regional government to thwart its leaders' independence bid.
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Spain's National Security Department said late on Friday that an undisclosed number of government websites had been hit in recent weeks with slogans supporting independence for the country's Catalonia region.
All of these measures are to be carried out under the unprecedented auspices of Article 155 of the Constitution, which allows Madrid to impose direct rule, and are pending a vote from the Senate, the upper house of Spain's parliament.
The goal is 'the return to legality and the recovery of institutional normalcy, ' the prime minister said Friday.
Mariano Rajoy said he wants the Catalonian administration's powers transferred to Madrid which is set to spark separatist anger.
Instead, they are threatening to make an explicit declaration of independence if central authorities go ahead with the intervention in the region's autonomous powers.
The protest in the centre of the Catalan capital had initially been called to push for the release of the leaders of two hugely influential grassroots independence organisations, accused of sedition and jailed pending further investigation. (Picture: Lola Bou/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images) Rajoy said the measure was a last resort as Puigdemont refuses to drop his threat to declare independence based on the results of the October 1 referendum, which had been ruled unconstitutional.
'We are applying Article 155 because the government of a democratic country can not accept that the law is ignored'.