Sánchez's deliberation and Puigdemont's absence loom over first election debate

Junts, ERC and Comuns empathize with Spanish PM over "lawfare"

Candidates ahead of the first election debate, organized by Rac1 and La Vanguardia
Candidates ahead of the first election debate, organized by Rac1 and La Vanguardia / Redacció
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

April 26, 2024 11:32 AM

April 26, 2024 05:46 PM

The first debate of the Catalan election campaign took place on Friday morning with events elsewhere – in Madrid and France – looming over proceedings in Barcelona.  

France, as the current home of Carles Puigdemont, absent from the debate, with Junts represented by Josep Rull. 

Madrid, where Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced on Wednesday that he was considering his future after an investigation was opened against his wife due to a complaint by pressure group Manos Limpias, whose leader has links to the far right. 

During the debate, organized by Rac1 radio and La Vanguardia on day one of official campaigning, the candidates voiced misgivings over Sánchez's decision, with only his Socialist colleague, Salvador Illa, backing him. 

"It's an unprecedented event, but it is a sincere act," Illa said. He called the investigation a personal attack on Sánchez and asked for a "collective reflection" on boundaries in politics. 

Three of the candidates – Josep Rull (Junts), Pere Aragonés (ERC) and Jéssica Albiach (Comuns) – empathized with Sánchez for the "lawfare" being waged against him, but pointed out that attacks from the far right are nothing new.

Alejandro Fernández (PP), Ignacio Garriga Laia Estrada (Vox) and Carlos Carrizosa (Ciudadanos) were more critical of the Spanish PM. 

Tax model for Catalonia, referendum, post-election pacts 

Among the topics debated by the candidates were a new tax model for Catalonia, an independence referendum, and which parties could work together following the election. 

On the latter, Salvador Illa ruled out relying on the support of the conservative PP to become president, while Josep Rull insisted on the need for deal between pro-independence parties (Junts, ERC, CUP). Pere Aragonès said support should be based on the parties' election manifestos.


Changes to Catalonia's financing and tax model were supported by the PP, Comuns, ERC, the Socialists and Junts.

Albiach also mentioned that the future of the Catalan parliament should be "progressive" as the right-wing parties are "always" behind a government.


Vox and Ciudadanos focused on criticizing both the Catalan and Spanish governments.

CUP urged their fellow pro-independence parties to move forward and talk about self-determination