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Spanish Socialist Leader Warns Catalan Parties: No Referendum On Self-Determination

Pedro Sánchez sends a clear message to ERC and Junts per Catalunya ahead of general election

A warning message from Pedro Sánchez to Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) and Junts per Catalunya. On Thursday, the Socialist leader warned the two parties that they should forget about asking for a referendum on self-determination in Catalonia as a condition for again voting for him as prime minister after the July 23rd general election. 

“The pro-independence movement asked both for an amnesty and a referendum, and it has not achieved, nor will it achieve, either of these two things”, said Sánchez, making clear that pardons for political prisoners was not what the pro-independence movement was asking for and that, therefore, Catalans will never be able to decide their political future if he is in the Moncloa palace.

He made this clear in an interview on La Sexta, when he was shown a clip of Gabriel Rufián, ERC MP, boasting, as he has done several times in this election campaign, of having “forced” the PSOE to pardon political prisoners. “It is normal for these things to be said during the campaign”, said the Spanish prime minister, before closing the door on the possibility of Catalans deciding on their independence from Spain.

 At the same time, he said that as a “progressive” it is more enriching to make “a defence of ‘yes’” to the unity of the State “than ‘no’” to separation, as the People’s Party (PP) is doing.

He again put his hands to his head over the statements made on Tuesday by Santiago Abascal, Vox’s leader in which he promised that if he sets foot in the Moncloa palace the situation in Catalonia will be “worse” than in 2017 because he would apply a permanent 155 article, which allows the Madrid government to impose its own power over any autonomous region, in the country. 

“I inherited one of the most serious constitutional and institutional crises in the history of our country, with a parliament that unilaterally declared independence, with politicians fleeing the country and with fires in the streets,” said Sánchez, who assured for the umpteenth time that “many spectators may be in favour or against the courage” of his decisions, but “the current situation is very different”.

He was proud of the fact that currently in Catalonia “the leading force is one that defends the unity of Spain”, in reference to the PSC, the Catalan Socialists. 

And he claimed that referendums in Catalonia have only been held when the PP was in the Spanish governments, referring to both the October 1st 2017 referendum and the November 9th 2014 independence poll. He also responded in this way to statements made by Mertxe Aizpurua, member of Bildu, who in an interview in the Basque Country promised to call for a referendum in Madrid if Basque society demands it.

Election campaign posters of the Catalan pro-independence party Junts with the image of Miriam Nogueras, with the slogan, Enough is enough, in the city on July 19, 2023 in Barcelona, Spain. Voters in Spain head to the polls on July 23 to cast their ballots and elect Spain’s next government. PHOTO BY ZOWY VOETEN/GETTY IMAGES 

Sánchez also described as worrying that the PP’s leader, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, “lied” this Wednesday in an interview in which he assured that when he was photographed with known drug trafficker Marcial Dorado he had no knowledge of his criminal activities. 

“His statements are lies, he has lost an opportunity to clarify his relationship with the drug trafficker”, he said, and “he owes it to the Spanish people to tell the truth”. “It is disturbing that he has had such close relations with a drug trafficker, a concern shared by thousands of Spaniards,” he said.

Sánchez expressed his conviction that the PSOE will win the elections and that there will be a new progressive government that “will halt the advance of the ‘hard right’, the PP, and the ‘far right’, Vox”. He said that the new sexual abuse law, known as the ‘only yes means yes’ law, is a good law because it provides resources and specialised care for victims of sexual aggression. 

“We made a mistake which we rectified,” he said, before stressing that “all the advances” of this legislature have been made “from a gender perspective”. “I assumed the responsibility and the mistake, because we can make mistakes, but we always defend women”, she said, while “Vox is always wrong, because it always defends sexism”.

Produced in association with El Nacional En

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