Spain expected to challenge Catalonia's referendum call before country's top court

The Spanish government is holding a special cabinet meeting and is expected to announce it intends to challenge the decision of the powerful northeastern region of Catalonia to call an independence referendum.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his ministers on Monday are to study reports from the Council of State — Spain's top consultative body — which say an individual region does not have the legal capacity to hold a sovereignty referendum.

Unhappy at Spain's refusal to give it more powers, Catalonia has long vowed to hold the referendum Nov. 9. Catalan regional leader Artur Mas formally called the vote Saturday, posing one of the most serious challenges for the Spanish state in recent years.

The Spanish government is expected to take the case to the top Constitutional Court.