With two weeks left before snap elections would automatically be called, Catalonia’s leading separatist party, the Republican Left, still doesn’t have support to form either a majority or a minority regional government.
The Republicans floated the possibility of a minority government after weeks of negotiations with the second independence party, Together for Catalonia (Junts), led nowhere. But even a minority government would need the backing of Junts to win more votes than the unionists, who have 53 out of 135 seats in the Catalan parliament.
The dispute centers on Junts‘ desire to push forward with Catalan independence from Spain whereas the Republicans want to give talks with Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez about more autonomy a chance. (Talks which have barely begun.) Junts is driving the negotiations to a head, because it thinks the Republicans have no alternative.
With support from the pro-independence Catalan left weakening, Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez is reaching out to the center-right.
The liberal-nationalist Citizens are shifting back to the center under their new leader, Inés Arrimadas, after a disastrous lurch to the right in the last election. They have largely supported Sánchez’ emergency measures to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed at least 28,000 Spaniards. The party has pledged to vote for three out of four proposed recovery programs, except the one for social policy.
Even the conservative People’s Party, which only a few months ago called Sánchez a “traitor” for doing a deal with Basque and Catalan separatists and then accused him of lying about the true death toll of the pandemic, has suggested it could support some of the policies, which include tax hikes and loans to small businesses.
With tourism, normally one-sixth of the economy, drying up, unemployment is projected to reach 19 percent. (It would be worse without the furloughing system ERTE.) The central bank expects the economy will contract between 9 and 15 percent this year before growing 7-9 percent in 2021. Read more “Sánchez Walks Fine Line Between Left and Right”
If Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez was hoping that taking a harder line on the Catalan independence crisis would give his Socialist Party a boost in the next election, a look at the polls must give him second thoughts.
Since the Supreme Court convicted nine Catalan separatist leaders of sedition against the Spanish state for organizing an unsanctioned independence referendum in 2017, support for the Socialists has fallen from 28-29 to 24-25 percent.
The conservative People’s Party is up, from around 20 to 22-23 percent in the last month. The far-right Vox, which got 10 percent in the last election, is up to 13-14 percent.
A possible last-minute deal between Spain’s ruling Socialist Party and the liberal Citizens collapsed on Tuesday, forcing caretaker prime minister Pedro Sánchez to either attempt a stitch-up with the far left or call elections in November, which would Spain’s fourth in as many years.
The Citizens, who had for months ruled out voting in Sánchez’ favor over his willingness to negotiate with the ruling parties in Catalonia, offered to abstain from an investiture vote if the Socialist ruled out taxes increases on the middle class and pardons for Catalan leaders who are on trial for organizing an unauthorized independence vote two years ago.
Sánchez claims he agreed to the terms; the Citizens insist he did not.
Polls suggest the Citizens could lost a quarter of their support in an early election. Their indecisiveness is causing them to lose voters to both the Socialists on the left and the People’s Party on the right.
Spanish parties have broken the cardinal rules of coalition politics. As a result, the country may need to go to elections for the fourth time in as many years.
Outgoing prime minister Pedro Sánchez has one last chance to stay in power. If the far-left Podemos supports him after all, and the Catalan independence parties abstain from today’s investiture vote, he could scrape by with the smallest possible majority.