ERC: Pedro Sánchez’s proposal for Catalonia is “awful” but Podemos should vote him in

Pedro Sánchez insisted he is not prepared to discuss a referendum with the Catalan authorities

On Tuesday Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez insisted that he is not prepared to discuss a referendum on independence with the Catalan authorities and, instead, he proposed to start a dialogue with the Barcelona government with a view to resolving the conflict. The PSOE is hoping to persuade ERC to vote in favour of the PM’s reelection in Madrid’s parliament —or at least to abstain, as they did in the second vote during last June’s failed re-election bid.

After meeting with his socialist counterparts, ERC Madrid spokesman Gabriel Rufián remarked that Sánchez’s proposal for Catalonia —as included in the PSOE’s platform— was “awful”. Rufián said that “they could have saved themselves that paragraph. It is a concession to Spain’s nationalistic spirit”. Unlike its policy on Catalonia, the rest of the PSOE’s social policies were met favourably by the Catalan party, which might prompt them to abstain again, if Sánchez attempts to hold another re-election vote in the Spanish parliament.

Rufián was reluctant to clarify how ERC might vote under those circumstances, but he made it clear that if Podemos agreed to support the PSOE PM-hopeful, ERC would follow suit. “ERC won’t be a hurdle”, he noted.

Podemos takes flak

The ERC spokesman in the Spanish parliament slammed Podemos over their refusal to back a socialist cabinet unless it includes members of Pablo Iglesias’ party. Rufián pointed out that the differences between PSOE and Podemos voters were not very significant, whereas the party leaders were unable to come to an agreement. “The price to be paid for their personal dislike [for one another] could be huge”, he lamented. “If a snap election is called, the right might win”, he argued. “Choosing not to support Pedro Sánchez in his re-election bid might result in direct rule [being brought back on Catalonia by a PP government]. A united right-wing bloc in the Senate would mean edging towards direct rule once again”.

ERC’s criticisms didn’t sit well with Unidas Podemos. Their Madrid spokesman, Jaume Asens, deplored Rufián’s words and defended his party’s efforts in the talks to form a new government in Spain. Asens stated that Podemos must be present in the Spanish executive so that Catalonia “can have a voice” and to prevent the PSOE from imposing direct rule again aided by the Spanish right.

PM Sánchez gets earful from Puigdemont

The Spanish Prime Minister has chosen not to meet the JxCat representatives in the Spanish parliament, earning him an earful from former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, who appeared in Brussels with MP Laura Borràs after holding a meeting with all the JxCat lawmakers. The exiled Catalan leader slammed Sánchez for excluding his party from the talks to secure a parliamentary majority that would allow his re-election, and he denied any claims that it was the Catalan party which turned down Sánchez’s invitation. Puigdemont and Borràs were indignant over the PSOE’s “disdain” for JxCat and their voters, Júlia Manresa reports from Brussels.

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