ERC to decide on Jan 2 if it helps Pedro Sánchez stay in power in Spain

Congress speaker sets January 4, 5 and 7 for parliamentary debates to vote on Socialist leader's presidential bid

ERC party members in the Catalan parliament (by ACN)
ERC party members in the Catalan parliament (by ACN) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

December 31, 2019 01:12 PM

The pro-independence ERC party will hold a meeting of its National Council on January 2 to decide whether to ratify its agreement with the Socialists, aimed at seeing Pedro Sánchez confirmed as the Spanish president.

The parties have been in talks in recent weeks, with the Socialists asking the pro-independence party to at least abstain in the upcoming vote in congress, which has been set by speaker Meritxell Batet for January 4, 5, and 7.

An ERC spokeswoman said the party is "skeptical" the Socialists will deliver on their promises, but argued that it is an "opportunity" to activate a "political path" towards finding a solution to the crisis between Catalonia and Spain.

A key demand by the pro-independence party was the setting up of bilateral talks aimed at finding a negotiated solution, with ERC's ultimate objective being a self-determination referendum agreed with Madrid.

Also on Tuesday, media reports claimed that another part of the deal reached between the two parties will see the Catalan public consulted on the agreements made by ERC and the Socialists in their talks.

Reactions to the deal

Junts per Catalunya, ERC's coalition partners in the Catalan government, has openly criticized the deal, calling it "disloyal," and alleging that it "weakens" the independence movement.

The president of the Catalan government and JxCat's highest-ranking official, Quim Torra, announced on Tuesday that he is planning to meet with his vice president—and member of Esquerra—Pere Aragonès to tell him that the party can't negotiate on behalf of the Catalan government.

One of Catalonia's leading pro-independence civil organizations, the ANC, also warned that the deal posed a "huge risk" by giving the impression abroad that the issue is "an internal conflict on its way to being resolved."

The other end of the spectrum was also unhappy with the deal. Societat Civil Catalana, which represents unionist organizations, rejected the agreement to hold bilateral talks "outside the institutional and constitutional framework."

Yet, the secretary of the Socialists, José Luis Ábalos, defended the deal, saying the agreed talks will "open up a process of dialogue" that will help "restore coexistence in Catalonia and overcome the conflict."