The desperate search for support to form a government is generating controversy in Spain: with an eye on the possibility that Pedro Sánchez could become president again, Yolanda Díaz, second vice president and Minister of Labor, met this Monday in Brussels to seek the “yes” from former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, who almost six years ago escaped 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 a member of the European Parliament and leader of Junts Per Catalunya, a radical force in the independence movement that he pursues for the Catalans and liberal in its economic aspect.
In the general elections on 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 Sánchez’s PSOE to achieve the necessary majority to be invested once again as president of the government by Congress.
Pedro Sánchez stands out
Although the current PSOE- Podemos coalition government is only in office until a new one can be formed, from the Moncloa Palace they tried to distance themselves this Monday from the meeting between Yolanda Díaz and Puigdemont, whose parliamentary immunity was revoked by the European Parliament and could to be claimed by the Spanish Justice to answer for having tried to separate Catalonia from the rest of Spain.
Controversial appointment in Brussels. Photo: EFE
And they assure that the minister attended the meeting with the former Catalan president as leader of Sumar, the political force with which Yolanda Díaz debuted in the July elections and in which she came fourth with 12.3 percent of the votes.
Sumar is the main ally of the PSOE, which obtained second place, behind the Popular Party, with 31.7 percent of the vote, and is the best interlocutor to “soften” Junts.
Sánchez would need support or abstention from Puigdemont’s party to get the results: 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 appointment as head of the new government will have to wait for the result of the first attempt that the leader of the Popular Party, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, will make.
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 to try to form a government.
Núñez Feijóo will do so in a debate to be held on September 26 and a vote will be taken the following day. But, for now, the PP candidate does not have the 176 essential supports to be invested.
Since the electoral result confirmed the indispensable role that the pro-independence and Basque parties will have for Sánchez 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 of October 1, 2017 and the subsequent unilateral declaration of independence of Catalonia.
The meeting between Yolanda Díaz and Carles Puigdemont lasted almost three hours.
Members of the European Parliament, including Puigdemont, this Monday in Brussels. Photo: EFE
Díaz was accompanied by the 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 Comín, a former adviser to his government who fled with him to Belgium in 2017.
“The meeting has been fruitful and allows us to establish a normalized and stable relationship between both political formations,” says the statement from both parties.
As reported, Díaz and Puigdemont agreed to “explore all democratic solutions for Catalonia.”
“This is unworthy,” said the president of the Community of Madrid, Isabel Díaz 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, Núñez Feijóo.
“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 is no longer a fugitive who must be taken to jail but rather he is a political interlocutor,” Pablo said this Monday. Iglesias, former vice president of Pedro Sánchez and former leader of Podemos.
“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 Díaz, which is a government photo but that does not tarnish the president of the government or the PSOE” Iglesias said.
“I think that Puigdemont will demand the photo with the president of the government,” he said.
And while his Minister of Labor and the Catalan leader were talking behind closed doors in Brussels, Pedro Sánchez spoke at an event in Madrid.
“This is the time for politics, to turn the page, to learn from those mistakes and to look towards a future of coexistence,” said Sánchez.
And he added: “Ours is a project that seamlessly supports the democratic Constitution.”