Catalan President Artur Mas has signed a decree calling for an independence referendum on November 9, defying the Spanish national government’s vow to halt such a vote.

Mas said on Saturday that semi-autonomous Catalonia wanted to "vote and decide."

Calls for an independence vote have grown in the wake of fiscal crisis that hit Spain and led to austerity measures.

On September 19, a day after Scotland voted against independence from the U.K., the region’s parliament in Barcelona passed a law allowing a referendum with the approval of more than two-thirds of its members.

The central government has pledged to stop such a bid, claiming the Spanish constitution does not allow referenda that exclude other regions of the country.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told journalists during a recent visit to China that insisting on a referendum would cause chaos because the decision to hold one could not be taken legally.

Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said the government had taken the first step to prove the referendum's illegality, consulting with the Spanish State Council on Saturday following Mas's announcement.

Rajoy's government is expected to appeal to the constitutional court over Catalonia's decision following a cabinet meeting on Monday.

Catalans, who polls show are largely in favor of seceding from Spain, took to the streets of Barcelona to celebrate the decision.

Anadolu Agency