An abundance of national flags hanging from balconies and windows was perhaps the only outward sign of an independence struggle within Spain in the Quintana neighborhood northwest of Madrid.

But only four miles from these residents finishing their Saturday morning café con leche and visiting supermarkets on the main street, the topic of Catalonian independence was the subject of an emergency cabinet meeting called by the Spanish prime minister.

In an unprecedented and unexpectedly forceful step, the prime minister not only asked the Spanish legislative body to revoke Catalonia's autonomy, but also demanded the region hold new elections to replace the leaders of the independence movement.

The announcement was met with protests on the streets of Barcelona where residents chanted "viva la revolution," but locals in Madrid said it was about time for the national government to step in.

"If it was my choice, it would end easily," said Alberto. "For everyone who doesn't follow the law, there's only one thing: they get their punishment."

For residents here, it isn't a question of ethnic background, but of abiding by the constitution.

"There are norms and a conduct that all humans have to maintain," said Marta.

"It's an embarrassment. It's embarrassing that we have reached a point where one can bypass the law," said Alberto.

And while Madrid residents didn't express much sympathy for the Catalan position, they also weren't completely supportive of the national government's behavior either.

For some, the actions the prime minister announced Saturday are simply too little too late, while others acknowledge the balancing act prime minister Mariano Rajoy is facing—both at home and abroad—and said he is doing the best he can.

But despite those differences, the sentiment in Madrid is that this crisis needs to be resolved soon.

"It's a disaster. It's a national disaster. It's not just a disaster for the Catalans or the region, but for the whole of Spain as a country," said Marta.