Esquerra vows 'never' to give up on referendum after Socialists rule out independence concessions

Conservative candidate threatens Socialists will "forgive" prosecuted pro-independence leaders

Esquerra candidate Carolina Telechea out on the campaign trail on Tuesday
Esquerra candidate Carolina Telechea out on the campaign trail on Tuesday / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

April 16, 2019 04:35 PM

The Socialist Party (PSOE) might have no alternative to talks with pro-independence Esquerra Republicana (ERC) in order to keep hold of power after the April 28 general election. But those negotiations wouldn't be easy.

The top Socialist candidate for Barcelona, Meritxell Batet, admitted on Tuesday that a deal with ERC to support Pedro Sánchez would be "very difficult" if an independence referendum is their price in potential negotiations.

"Pro-independence parties know this won't happen," said Batet, a Spanish government minister. "It is illegal and it doesn't serve to solve the problem."

Sources in the Socialist party believe that negotiations with ERC must be avoided, unless the pro-independence party asks for nothing in exchange.

Yet ERC promptly responded by saying that they will "never" give up on a referendum.

"It is what the people are asking for," said their No.3 candidate in Barcelona, Carolina Telechea. "80% of citizens want an agreed referendum, to be able to vote, and we are committed to it."

The other mainstream pro-independence party, Junts per Catalunya, was even clearer in rejecting talks to help swear in the Socialist president Pedro Sánchez unless they accept self-determination.

Party candidate Míriam Nogueras said that "the years have proved that it is not possible" to negotiate with PSOE. "I am not saying that one can't negotiate with PSOE, what I say is that they have said they don't want to negotiate."

Yet Ciutadans, fiercely against independence, said they did not trust the Socialists. 

Inés Arrimadas, the party's high-profile Barcelona candidate, said they would do "whatever it takes" to achieve power and described them as an "unscrupulous threat to the public".