The process of forming a new Spanish government has not yet been crowned with success. In early parliamentary elections in July, the conservative People’s Party received the most votes, but it and its potential coalition partners from the far-right Vox formation failed to win a majority in the lower house of the Spanish parliament. The candidacy of the leader of the People’s Party, Alberto Nunes Feijoo, was rejected by the deputies. Thus, the initiative to form a new government passed to the Socialists and their leader Pedro Sánchez, who has been in power since 2018 and continues to head the government of Spain as acting prime minister.
After concluding a coalition agreement with the left-wing Sumar association, the Socialists took the next major step forward towards a new government on Thursday. It is about reaching an agreement with the Republican Left of Catalonia, under which Sánchez gained the support of the Catalan formation that supports the independence of Catalonia. This agreement envisages a commitment by the Socialists to push through a law for the amnesty of the politicians who participated in the failed attempt to separate Catalonia, as well as the forgiveness by Spain of Catalan debts in the amount of 15 billion euros. This has led to a situation where the only thing that Sánchez and the Socialists lack to ensure they stay in power is the support of Puigdemont’s “Together for Catalonia” party.
The stay in power of the Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez depends only on the supporter of the independence of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont, wrote in its analytical material the Agence France Presse. However, Puigdemont decided to make the Socialist prime minister wait to show him that he would not give his support too easily.
Puigdemont is based in Brussels as he is being prosecuted by Spanish justice for the failed attempt to separate the autonomous region of Catalonia from Spain in 2017.
On Thursday, Puigdemont met with representatives of the leadership of his “Together for Catalonia” party at a hotel in the Belgian capital. Hopes that he would announce his support for Sanchez were dashed after no such announcement was made by the end of the day.
In exchange for the support of his party’s seven lawmakers, which is vital to Sánchez, Puigdemont is demanding amnesty for those involved in the attempted secession of Catalonia, a demand that has provoked strong reactions in Spanish society and which the Socialists have agreed to grant.
If the measure goes through, it will mean that Puigdemont will be able to return to Spain, six years after he fled to Belgium. The concept of an amnesty bill proposed by the Socialists has already been approved by the Republican Left of Catalonia.
AFP quotes analyst Antonio Barroso from the Teneo consultancy, who says the fact that Puigdemont is not in a hurry to reach an agreement with the Socialists is also due to the power struggle in Catalonia, which is led by “Together for Catalonia” against the Republican Left of Catalonia.
“Together for Catalonia”, which is the more radical of the two formations, has played the role of a determined opposition to Pedro Sánchez in recent years, although in 2018 it helped him come to power.
Catalonia’s Republican Left is more moderate and more open to dialogue with Madrid. She often supports left-wing government initiatives in the Spanish parliament.
“Together for Catalonia” is fighting a fierce battle with the Republican Left of Catalonia for a dominant position in the ranks of the Catalan independence movement, and Puigdemont “doesn’t want to look like someone who has betrayed his own” by accepting Sánchez’s stay in power. Barroso explains.
The two parties were allies in the attempted secession of Catalonia, but they fell out last year, with Together for Catalonia accusing Catalonia’s Republican Left of being too soft on the central government. The Republican Left of Catalonia currently governs the Spanish autonomous region on its own.
In this context, Puigdemont wants to impose a narrative of a different agreement than the one agreed to by the Republican Left of Catalonia and to suggest that the last word will be his, writes journalist Enrique Giuliana in the Barcelona daily Vanguardia.