| 23 July 2024, Tuesday |

Spain’s Socialists win backing of Catalan separatist ERC, still waiting on Junts

Catalan separatist party Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) has reached an agreement with Spain’s Socialists (PSOE) to support interim Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s campaign for a second term, the parties said on Thursday.

However, the essential support of rival party Junts is still waiting due to last-minute discussions.

Sanchez, struggling to form a government three months after an inconclusive election, agreed a coalition deal with the left-wing Sumar last month but still needs support in parliament from smaller parties, including Catalan and Basque separatists, to win an investiture vote.

Seeking the support of the Catalan parties, Sanchez said on Saturday he favoured granting an amnesty to people involved with Catalonia’s failed 2017 independence bid.

The potential amnesty has unleashed a political storm in Spain, with mainly conservative opponents holding large protests and accusing Sanchez of jeopardising the rule of law for his own political gain.

The agreement with ERC included “an amnesty for all”, the Catalan party’s chairman Oriol Junqueras told reporters, without elaborating.

It should include events from 2014 until now, said Pere Aragones, the ERC head of Catalonia’s regional government, adding that after an amnesty it would be “time to advance towards” another referendum on self-determination.

Spain’s Presidency Minister and PSOE senior official Felix Bolanos told reporters after sealing the deal with ERC that he would not give details about the amnesty while an agreement was still pending with other parties.

Junts held a meeting in Brussels to decide whether to back Sanchez’s investiture, but it ended without an agreement with the PSOE, said a Junts source. Negotiations will continue on Friday.

Bolanos said the deal “guarantees stability for the legislature”, suggesting it would also include votes on key pieces of legislation such as approval of the government budget.

But ERC leader Junqueras said continued support would depend on compliance with the agreement.

“It is a pact for the investiture, and as long as it is respected we will continue with our support,” he said.

Under the agreement Spain will assume 15 billion euros ($15.9 billion) of Catalan debt, while creating a new mechanism that other regions could also use to seek market financing.

  • Reuters