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When a government decides to 'do' a referendum, what's the word/verb for it? Run, establish, form... etc?

Here is the sentence I need it for:

"The Catalan government disobeyed the Spanish constitution when they ______ a referendum in hope that Catalonia could become independent of Spain."

7

A referendum is called (when it is first proposed) and then held (when the actual vote takes place).

According to Google ngrams:

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Here's a quote from ABC News Australia concerning the 2017 Catalan independence referendum:

Catalan leaders held an independence referendum on Sunday that was banned by Madrid and marked by violent scenes at electoral stations where Spanish police sought to hinder voting.

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    This answer is essentially correct, but it could be better. You might want to try to differentiate between calling and holding a referendum, since the former refers to initiating the process and the latter to actually executing it. – Aiken Drum Jan 6 '18 at 10:34
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    @AikenDrum A quote from the news referring to the Catalan referendum would also be useful. – Nigel J Jan 6 '18 at 11:32

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