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Spanish government begins moves to halt Catalonia region's alternative independence vote

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MADRID — Spain's government plans to ask the country's Constitutional Court to block the wealthy northeastern region of Catalonia's plan to hold an informal, non-binding referendum about its independence on Nov. 9.

Catalonia canceled an official referendum on that issue set for the same date after the government challenged its legality before the court, which tentatively suspended the vote. Catalonia then opted to hold the informal ballot in a show of determination.

It would be tentatively suspended, if the court agrees to study a new challenge.

Polls indicate most Catalans want a referendum but are roughly equally divided over independence. The issue has embittered the region's relations with the government.

On Monday, the government asked the opinion of the state's top consultative body with a view toward announcing the court challenge Friday.

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