The desperate search for support to form a government generates controversy in Spain: with an eye on the possibility that Pedro Sanchez could become president again, Yolanda Diaz, second vice president and Minister of Labor, met this Monday in Brussels to seek the “yes” of the former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, who almost six years ago esced from Spain to avoid going to prison for having unilaterally declared the independence of Catalonia in 2017.
It is the first time that a member of the government meets with the former regional president who in Spain is considered a fugitive from Justice.
Self-exiled in Belgium since 2017, Puigdemont is today member of the European Parliament and leader of Junts Per Catalunya, a radical force in the independence movement that pursues for the Catalans and liberal in its economic aspect.
In the general elections of July 23, Junts obtained 1.6 percent of the votes, which, translated into parliamentary seats, is equivalent to 7 deputies. They would be decisive for Pedro Sanchez’s PSOE to achieve the majority necessary to be invested once again as president of the government by Congress.
Pedro Sanchez stands out
Although the current PSOE- Podemos coalition government is only in functions until a new one is formed, from the Moncloa Palace They tried to distance themselves from the meeting this Monday between Yolanda Diaz and Puigdemont, whose parliamentary immunity was revoked by the European Parliament and could be demanded by the Spanish Justice to answer for having tried to separate Catalonia from the rest of Spain.
And they assure that the minister attended the meeting with the former Catalan president as leader of Sumar, the political force with which Yolanda Diaz debuted in the July elections and in which she came fourth with 12.3 percent of the votes.
Add He is the main ally of the PSOEwhich obtained second place, behind the Popular Party, with 31.7 percent of the vote, and is the best interlocutor to “soften” Junts.
Sanchez would need support or abstention from Puigdemont’s party to be held accountable: obtain half plus one of the 350 deputies that make up the Spanish Parliament or, in the second instance, obtain more “yes” than “no” to his investiture.
The attempt of the PP
In any case, the possibilities of a debate that culminates with his pointment as head of the new government will have to wait for the result of the first attempt that the leader of the Popular Party will make, Alberto Nunez Feijoo.
His party was the most voted: it obtained 33.1 percent of the polls and that allowed it to seat 137 deputies in Parliament.
For this reason, King Felipe VI, as head of state, entrusted him with trying to form a government.
Nunez Feijoo will do so in a debate that will be held on September 26 and will be voted on the following day. But, for now, the PP candidate does not have the 176 essential supports to be invested.
The conditions of Junts
Since the electoral result confirmed the indispensable role that the pro-independence and Basque parties will have for Sanchez to achieve his re-election, Junts assures that they will negotiate in exchange for the amnesty for Puigdemont and for the Catalan nationalists with judicial processes for reasons of the illegal self-determination referendum on October 1, 2017 and the subsequent unilateral declaration of independence of Catalonia.
The meeting between Yolanda Diaz and Carles Puigdemont It lasted almost three hours.
Diaz was accompanied by former deputy Jaume Asens, the one chosen to carry out the negotiation with Carles Puigdemont and his party.
The former Catalan president attended the meeting with Toni Comin, a former advisor to his government who fled with him to Belgium in 2017.
“The meeting has been fruitful and allows the establishment of a normalized and stable relationship between both political formations,” says the statement from both parties.
According to reports, Diaz and Puigdemont agreed “explore all democratic solutions for Catalonia.”
“This is unworthy”, expressed the president of the Community of Madrid, Isabel Diaz Ayuso.
“Today the government meets with a fugitive from Justice in Brussels. They have gone to negotiate an amnesty contrary to the Constitution,” said the PP candidate for the presidency of Spain, Nunez Feijoo.
“Puigdemont is demanding political recognition and that means a photo with a member of the Spanish government who goes there to make it clear that Puigdemont he is no longer a fugitive that you have to take to jail but it is a political interlocutor”, Pablo Iglesias, former vice president of Pedro Sanchez and former leader of Podemos, said this Monday.
“I think that the PSOE does not want a photo of any of the members of its party with Carles Puigdemont and understands that this job can be done much better by Yolanda Diaz, which is a government photo but that does not tarnish the president of the government or the PSOE” Iglesias said.
“I believe that Puigdemont will demand a photo with the president of the government,” he said.
And while his Minister of Labor and the Catalan leader spoke behind closed doors in Brussels, Pedro Sanchez spoke at an event in Madrid.
“Is the moment of politicsto turn the page, to learn from those mistakes and to look ahead a future of coexistence”Sanchez said.
And he added: “Ours is a project that unwaveringly supports the democratic Constitution.”