Catalonia - Spain

ERC warns Sánchez that his continuity as president depends on the negotiating table

Spanish president reiterates his "outstretched hand" and rejects "lessons from the sovereigntist left"

3 min
ERC spokesman in Congress, Gabriel Rufián, during the session of control of the Spanish government

MadridConcern is growing in ERC over Pedro Sánchez's delaying of the dialogue table. After the conference by Catalan president Pere Aragonès and ERC spokesman in the Spanish Parliament Gabriel Rufián warned he has the "suspicion" that the PSOE is being "tempted to let the opportunity pass", the only response from the Spanish president has been that it "always" has an "outstretched hand towards the negotiating table and the Bilateral Commission", which will meet this Friday in Barcelona. Yet both Rufián and Aragonès have warned that the Socialists continuity in government depends on advances in dialogue, thus conditioning ERC's support of the Spanish government.

The Catalan president has recalled in an interview on TV3 that Sánchez was invested thanks to an agreement with ERC and because independentism is "strong". "If he wants to continue exercising responsibilities in the State, he will have to talk and reach agreements", he has affirmed. In the same line has been addressed from the lower house by Rufián, who has urged him to address the conflict to "avoid packing his suitcases". There is a message that ERC spokesman in the Spanish parliament repeats frequently: "Whoever believes that failure of the negotiating table only wears out the independence movement is wrong. It would also be a failure of the Spanish left". Rufián has warned that sovereigntism does not "do badly" when "the Spanish left fails", but the doors of the Moncloa are opened for the right and the far right.

For this reason, he has asked Sánchez not to let the negotiating table slip away and to put left-wing policies on the table. "And that does not mean a labour reform applauded by Ana Botín," he has stressed. Rufián's intervention was not appreciated by the Socialist leader, who warned Rufián he will not accept "lessons from the sovereigntist left". "Nobody will give me left-wing credentials. And least of all you," he remarked. Sánchez has recalled that, during the debate on the labour law in parliament, Rufián mentioned that the former leader of Cs, Albert Rivera, would have signed it, but he does not see it as an "insult" to the Spanish government. "It is an insult to the unions, who made a patriotic act," the Spanish president thundered.

If one "temptation" is not to address the Catalan conflict, another one is for Vox to devour the PP, Rufián believes. "When Pablo Casado talks about ETA in front of a few cows I think he's having a good time, but what for? So that Vox ends up having 70 MPs? What's the point? The wolf will end up biting you too," the ERC MP warned. Sánchez has denied that he is happy about the rise of the far right in the State and has given as an example his offer to the PP to prevent Vox from entering the government of Castilla y León. As he did this Tuesday in the Senate, he has once again offered the conservatives PSOE's abstention with a series of conditions. "The PP has to ask for help, explain why the far right cannot enter governments and state that this will be for every day, forever and ever and in all regions".

Aragonès does not plan to attend the presidents' conference

In parallel to the exchange of reproaches, Aragonès has already affirmed that "right now" he does not plan to attend the conference of regional presidents on February 25 in La Palma, where the Spanish executive expects to continue boasting of recovering institutional normality with the Generalitat. The Catalan president, however, has argued that in this type of forum they are only going to make "assessments" on the pandemic and European funds, and that "it is not useful". "This is not federal governance, not even autonomic," he complained.

Aragonès, who this afternoon will meet with the head of the opposition and first secretary of the PSC, Salvador Illa, does not plan to bring together the table of Catalan parties, as demanded by the Catalan socialists. Illa has insisted on this demand in an interview to Catalunya Ràdio, from where he has denied that the negotiation with the Catalan government has been left aside. He assured that "there are discreet conversations" between representatives of "different levels" of the Spanish government and the Generalitat, although, for now, there is no date for the negotiaitng table to meet publicly. He has shown himself convinced, however, that it will be convened when appropriate.