Sánchez must bring solutions to the table

2 min
The President of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, and the Spanish President, Pedro Sánchez, in Barcelona

BarcelonaIt seems incredible, but Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has not yet said a single word in public of his own accord about Catalangate spying scandal, uncovered by The New Yorker on April 18, in which Catalan pro-independence leaders' phones were infected with Pegasus. He only did so in the Spanish Parliament answering a question from Gabriel Rufián, which is totally insufficient. He has not even referred to the fact his own mobile phone was infected with Pegasus a year ago. From day one, Sánchez's strategy has been to minimise this scandal, not to expose himself, and to try to weather the storm without having to make any compromising decisions. This strategy, however, is no longer working.

This Friday, Sánchez has found himself face to face with Catalan president Pere Aragonès, who is one of victims of spying by Spanish secret services. And obviously he had to hear from the Catalan president that this is a very serious matter that can only be resolved if there is a high-level meeting between the two of them in which all aspects of the scandal are addressed. Obviously, the meeting, in order to be successful, must be preceded by negotiations in which they agree, in broad terms, on what the solution should be. Otherwise it will only seal the disagreement and leave the future of the Spanish government hanging by a thread.

So far, the PSOE's handling of this case has been puzzling. First, it played it down. Then it revealed that Sánchez's and Margarita Robles's phones had also been spied on; and finally, in the official secretes committee, the director of the CNI confirmed that current president of the Generalitat and the leader of the Spanish government's main parliamentary support Pere Aragonès had been spied on with court authorisataion. The feeling is that with each step taken by the PSOE, the fire has grown bigger and bigger. And now there is even the danger of a diplomatic crisis with Morocco over the spying on Sánchez (although it is difficult for the Spanish government to admit that it was spied on by Rabat).

Time, however, is running out for Sánchez. The Spanish president cannot hope to get out of this mess unscathed, without having to make any painful decisions. Maintaining his parliamentary support has a cost, and this cost is to bet on transparency and holding those responsible to account. Whatever the price. So far, he has only tried to gain time with decisions that added fuel to the fire. Now he must offer solutions to put it out. Any new distraction manoeuvres are doomed to failure, because the facts are crystal clear: a director of the CNI appointed by the Minister of Defence asked the judge for authorisation to tap the phone of the then vice-president of the Generalitat. And if there are no indications that he was about to commit a flagrant crime, then it is political espionage, and she and her hierarchical superior must resign. And then we must find ways to make it legally impossible for this to happen again. As simple and as difficult as that.