Which Pedro Sánchez will Aragonès meet in Madrid?
MadridWhen Pere Aragonès enters the Spanish presidential palace this Friday he will find an exultant Pedro Sánchez, hugely self-confident and convinced that the Catalan question is only a small obstacle compared to all the ones he has had to overcome. And there can be no doubt that he has reason to be satisfied. After the Andalusian setback, the Socialists designed a final stretch of their mandate that should balance the scales. The NATO summit was a resounding organisational success and showcased Sánchez internationally. And the state of the nation debate helped him recover the political initiative and breathe new energy into the left. The PP's abstention this Thursday to the second decree of measures against the consequences of the war is a final victory in a fantastic week. It shows that it is he who has control of the state and the electoral calendar, and he has a year and a half ahead of him to gradually suffocate Feijóo.
This new triumphant Sánchez, however, needs partners to approve next year's budgets. And this is where Aragonès has a window of opportunity. The Catalan president's challenge is to bring his Spanish counterpart down from the clouds and convince him to make some significant steps on the anti-repressive agenda. Sánchez, from his part, will try to lower the price of ERC's support for the budgets as much as possible with the argument that it will be good for everyone to have fresh money in a year, 2023, which is expected to be difficult financially. And also, of course, with the argument that if he falls, so will the whole scheme of dialogue and détente.
Reform of the crime of sedition
The positioning of the advocate general of the CJEU in favour of Judge Pablo Llarena also gives Aragonès a new card to play. The reform of the crime of sedition now appears as a possible solution for Carles Puigdemont (and Marta Rovira). And this can only come through negotiation with the Spanish government and articulating a majority in the Spanish parliament.
In any case, no major announcements are expected. The news will be the meeting itself. The leader of the Catalan side and the leader of the Spanish side will have the opportunity to say things to each other's faces and gauge whether there is a way forward or not. Both have incentives to continue with the dialogue started last September, so we have to expect a confirmation of the differences but also a commitment to persevere. However, to be credible, the table between governments should meet before the summer break and already bear some concrete fruit. For Sánchez, this would mean leaving with the support of ERC on track. And for Aragonès, the first victory of his strategic commitment to dialogue.