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Spanish PM’s Holiday Delays Talks With Puigdemont

Madrid in limbo as Sánchez takes a break, leaving Catalonia's future uncertain

In a week after the Spanish general election held last Sunday, Madrid has already lost its way in the Puigdemont labyrinth. No one from Junts per Catalunya is talking, because they know nothing of what is being brewed; Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya’s (ERC) president, Oriol Junqueras, has also reduced his media presence. 

“Pedro Sánchez needs to clarify how Euskadi and Catalonia fit in the Spanish state,” said the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), through it’s president Andoni Ortuzar. 

Meanwhile, the Spanish prime minister has gone on holiday to Lanzarote where, its assumed that he hopes to gather his strength to retract some of the things he said about Puigdemont and open talks with Waterloo.

The table is ready at Avenue de l’Avocat, 34, something which should not come as a surprise, since in February 2019 Puigdemont also offered this possibility to Inés Arrimadas for what he himself defined as a cordial interview. Arrimadas, who at that time was still at the head of the parliamentary opposition in Catalonia, never attended. And she will never go, because what she does today is of no interest to anyone, she has burned all her ships, leaving behind her only tension. 

Politics has its opportunities, and as the Spanish say, those who go to Seville lose their seats [Move your feet, lose your seat]. They already know the way there, if they are the same who in the past acted as Moncloa’s envoys, looking to find out if Puigdemont was interested in personal solutions, and were promptly turned down. If they are others, they will also find it.

Spanish Member of the EU (Non-attached Members – Junts per Catalunya – Lliures per Europa) Carles Puigdemont in 2022 in Brussels, Belgium. Sánchez publicly rules out an electoral repetition and says he will come to an understanding with Junts. THIERRY MONASSE/GETTY IMAGES.

The fact Sánchez has gone on holiday means at least two things: nothing is going to go quickly, and he believes only the PSOE is in the game. The former is certainly true. Regarding the latter, we have already seen so many things in politics that nothing can ever be 100% ruled out. In times when things went much faster, José María Aznar’s appointment as prime minister in 1996 took place over two months after the general election, and we have already seen two repetitions of elections, in 2015 and 2018, due to a lack of sufficient support for a candidate.

Sánchez publicly rules out this electoral repetition and says he will come to an understanding with Junts. It is not impossible, of course, but the Spanish prime minister is not the only one who is optimistic about a situation which, if one thing is certain, will not resemble any other investiture: neither the motion of censure he won, nor the investiture he achieved with ERC’s support.

Time, moreover, is necessary for environmental deflation in a negotiation. And I regret to return to Aznar’s investiture: in 1996 it took many weeks for the “Pujol, enano, habla castellano” [Pujol, you dwarf, speak Spanish] that was chanted in the PP’s headquarters to give way to an unsubtle declaration that the future prime minister spoke Catalan in private. 

“Puigdemont’s word is worth the same as his declaration of independence and that the former Catalan president belonged to the past and was now an anecdote,” said Sanchez in a statement reportedly made on 6th July.

Well, it was not his best praise for his future negotiator, nor his best prediction. We could find more statements, even more cruel and, above all, those which sought to dehumanise him, also using unscrupulous media to do so. 

Let’s see if there are any significant moves in the run-up to the convening of the Parliament’s Bureau on August 17th. It will be a first attempt. There is talk of facilitating setting up parliamentary groups for the pro-independence parties, something for which they did not achieve the required number of votes. I suppose this is a joke, or that someone thought the negotiation was going to be that cheap: that is already taken for granted if they want their interlocutor not to leave the table before starting talks. The real change would be, in any case, for the Parliament’s spokesperson position not to fall to the PP or PSOE. Everything else is almost irrelevant.

Produced in association with El Nacional En

Edited by Judy J. Rotich and Newsdesk Manager

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