What next in the Catalan crisis?

Protesters wave pro-independence Catalan Estelada flags during a demonstration in Barcelona on October 21, 2017

A month after Catalonia's separatist government went ahead with a banned independence referendum, its leaders on Tuesday were summoned to appear in court.

Spain's central government on Friday stripped the semi-autonomous region of its powers, dismissed its government and called an early regional election after the Catalan parliament voted to declare independence.

So what happens now? The following are the next key events in the crisis.

- Court appearances -

The National Audience, Spain's top criminal court, on Tuesday summoned Catalonia's deposed leader Carles Puigdemont, and 13 other former members of his government, to appear for questioning over the regional independence drive.

Puigdemont and several members of his executive fled to Belgium after being dismissed by the central government and if they refuse to appear in court as requested, prosecutors could order their arrest.

Spain's Supreme Court on Tuesday summoned the former speaker of the Catalan parliament, Carme Forcadell, and her parliamentary deputies to appear for questioning on Thursday and Friday over the region's independence drive.

The public prosecutor's office has asked that Puigdemont, Forcadell and the others be charged with rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds.

The crime of rebellion carries a prison term of up to 30 years while sedition can be punished with a sentence of up to 15 years.

- Court hears appeal -

The National Audience will on Friday consider an appeal filed by the leaders of two grassroots independence groups, Jordi Cuixart of Omnium Cultural and Jordi Sanchez of the Catalan National Assembly, against their detention on October 16 on sedition charges.

The two men are accused of organising a demonstration in Barcelona in September that hindered a police raid against organisers of an unauthorised independence referendum on October 1.

- Early vote preparations -

Afer imposing direct rule on Catalonia, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called fresh elections in the region for December 21.

Parties that wish to stand together in a coalition in the polls must announce this by November 7.

During the last regional election in September 2015 Puigdemont's conservative PdeCat and the far-left ERC party stood together in a "Together for Yes" coalition.

But there have been growing tensions between the two allies over strategy and it is not clear if they will stand together again.

The ERC party, which has long called for independence, is riding high in opinion polls and could prefer to run on is own, splitting the separatist camp.

Between November 13 and 18 Catalan parties must announce their list of candidates.

The tiny, anti-capitalist separatist Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) party, a key ally of the "Together for Yes" coalition, must decide by this time if it will take part in the election called by the central government.

- Election campaign -

The election campaign officially kicks off on November 5 and runs until November 19.

Mass protests for and against independence are likely during the campaign, like the ones held in Barcelona throughout October.

- Elections -

During the last regional election on September 2015, separatist parties won a slim majority of 72 seats in the 135-seat Catalan parliament for the first time.

While they captured just 47.8 percent of the vote, a quirk in Spanish election law gives a higher proportion of seats in rural areas where support for independence is higher.

Separatist parties would lose their majority if an election was held now, capturing only 61-65 seats this time around, according to a poll published Sunday in the El Mundo newspaper.