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Catalan parties call for urgent end to political stalemate

With Jordi Sànchez’s bid to become president blocked by the courts, parliamentary groups stress the need for a swift solution

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12 March 2018 04:53 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

Catalonia’s political parties do not tend to agree on much, but after almost 12 weeks since the December 21 election, the one thing that they all want to see as soon as possible is a new Catalan government. However, that’s as far as the consensus goes, as even among parties in the same parliamentary camp it seems there is little agreement on how to proceed.

Since the Supreme Court on Friday turned down a request by jailed MP Jordi Sànchez to attend the parliament on Monday to be sworn in as the new Catalan president, it is a case of 'back to the drawing board' for the two main pro-independence parties, Junts per Catalunya (JxCat) and Esquerra (ERC). For now, they are hoping an appeal to the same court will succeed, but they might be pushed into looking for yet another candidate for president, and one that is acceptable to the CUP party, whose votes they need for a majority.

Speaker under pressure

At the same time, the other parties in the Catalan chamber are becoming increasingly impatient about the lack of progress, while parliament speaker Roger Torrent is under pressure after having postponed two sessions to swear in candidates that he nominated as Catalan president. Over everything hangs the possibility of a new election, something that most of the parties would prefer to avoid.

Sànchez the only candidate for JxCat

While the Supreme Court considers Sànchez’s appeal, his JxCat party says he remains the only candidate for president on the table. Yet, according to a party spokeswoman, should the appeal be unsuccessful and if a new candidate has to be chosen, then the party insists it must be done in “an agreed manner,” and she called on the other parties -no doubt with one eye on the CUP party- to show “generosity” in finding a solution.

ERC prioritizes “quickness”

As for the other main pro-independence party, ERC, its spokesman on Monday called above all for “quickness” in finding a way to form a new government, “whether with the name put forward or with another.” Until now ERC has backed first Puigdemont and then Sànchez -both from JxCat- as candidates for president, and while the spokesman reiterated the party’s support for Sànchez, he stressed there must be “no further delay” in forming a government.

CatECP wants “more intelligence” from pro-independence parties

More haste was what the spokeswoman for the Catalunya en Comú Podem (CatECP) party also called for. She asked the pro-independence parties to “show more intelligence” and to prioritize the formation of a new government in order to bring an end to the direct rule of Catalonia from Madrid. The spokeswoman also described the Supreme Court decision to deny Sànchez the chance to attend the parliament as “intolerable”.

PSC appeals to Constitutional Court

Yet, it was not only the pro-independence parties that were in spotlight, as Parliament speaker Torrent also came in for criticism. In fact, the Catalan socialist party (PSC) announced that it had appealed to Spain’s Constitutional Court to overturn Torrent’s decision to once again postpone the investiture debate and for the court to “set a deadline” for the vote to take place.  

Torrent must “show his face” says Cs

The unionist Ciutadans party (Cs) was also critical of Torrent, calling on the speaker to “show his face” and recognize that “he has not candidates for the investiture.” The leader of Cs said Torrent was “the only one with the key” to unblock the current “shameful” situation by publicly admitting the stalemate and finding alternative solutions. However, the Cs leader also ruled out a new election, saying that “it would not be a solution for anything.”

PPC urges speaker not to be “ridiculous”

For the head of the Catalan branch of Spain’s ruling People’s Party (PPC), Torrent should “stop being ridiculous” by allowing himself to be subject to Sànchez’s candidacy. The PPC leader also said he intends to send a letter to Torrent, asking him to explain to the heads of all the parliamentary groups in parliament what he intends to do to find a way out of the current “paralysis.”

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