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Key day for looming Spain’s presidency bid

Pedro Sánchez to call party leaders before their meetings with king as deadline to appoint head of government runs out 

 

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17 September 2019 12:02 PM

by

ACN | Madrid

With just over a week to go for the Spanish Congress to appoint a new head of government or trigger a fourth general election in as many years, Spain's parties have still not reached a deal that will allow Pedro Sánchez to reclaim the presidency.

On Tuesday, the Socialists said Sánchez would call the leaders of the other main parties "to learn their final decision" on whether they intend to either support or enable his presidential bid before their formal meetings with the king later in the day.

According to the Socialists, "the commitment of the acting president is to begin a political term without the need for elections in order to achieve a stable government, which is what Spain needs."

 

  • "The commitment of the acting president is to begin a political term without the need for elections in order to achieve a stable government, which is what Spain needs"

    Spain's Socialist party

Since winning the general election in April with a minority of seats, Sánchez has been unable to reach agreement with fellow leftwing party Podemos, or to convince the conservative PP party or the center-right Cs to abstain and allow his bid to go through.

Cs calls for urgent meeting with Sánchez

The ultimatum from the Socialists comes after Cs head, Albert Rivera, called for an urgent meeting to discuss a deal on condition that, as president, Sánchez does not pardon the Catalan leaders awaiting a verdict in their trial for organizing the 2017 independence bid. 

The Ciutadans party also urged the Socialists to again suspend Catalonia's self-rule if the government in Barcelona does not accept the verdict on the jailed leaders. This last happened eight months after the declaration of independence in October 2017.

Socialists on direct rule of Catalonia

In an address to the Ciutadans party on Tuesday, Pedro Sánchez guaranteed that he "would not hesitate" to exercise direct rule of Catalonia from Madrid if needed. The move intends to persuade Albert Rivera's party to abstain in a vote on Sánchez's presidency. The Socialists would still however need more abstentions to succeed.

Yet, time is running out for an agreement that will avoid another election, with the traditional round of talks to appoint a presidential candidate between the king and the parties underway and the deadline for Congress to appoint a head of government on September 23.

Independence vote in Catalonia

Meanwhile, Sánchez has repeatedly rebuffed the offers of support from the JxCat and ERC pro-independence parties in Congress, which in return demand talks on a binding self-determination referendum in Catalonia.

Nevertheless, JxCat's leader in Congress, Laura Borràs, met the king on Tuesday morning, wearing clothes with a yellow detail to show solidarity with the jailed Catalan leaders, while ERC declined to meet the Spanish monarch in the traditional round of talks.

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  • Spain's president, Pedro Sánchez, meeting King Felipe on June 6, 2019 (by Juan Carlos Hidalgo/Pool via REUTERS)

  • Spain's president, Pedro Sánchez, meeting King Felipe on June 6, 2019 (by Juan Carlos Hidalgo/Pool via REUTERS)

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