Pro-independence parties stand firm on conditions to support Sánchez
Acting Spanish president has promised a government "in next few weeks" but Catalan parties in congress are still undecided on how to vote
Ten days since the general election, Spain still has no formal government. However, acting president Pedro Sánchez said on Wednesday that he is confident that a "full capacity" executive can be formed "in the next few weeks."
For that to happen, Sánchez first needs enough support in the Spanish parliament to back, or at least not oppose, him being invested as the new head of government. And between them the Catalan pro-independence parties have 23 seats in congress.
Thirteen of those seats belong to the Esquerra Republicana party (ERC), but before it decides to offer its support to Sánchez, it intends to ask its membership on Monday where they stand on helping to invest the Socialist leader.
So far, ERC has stood firm in its intention to vote 'no' to Sánchez, unless the acting president agrees to formal negotiations on Catalonia's political future, with a set agenda and guarantees that any agreements reached will be carried out.
JxCat and ERC to meet next week
With eight congress seats, it is a stance that the pro-independence Junts per Catalunya party (JxCat) has also taken so far, and there is to be a meeting between JxCat and ERC next week to explore the possibility of adopting a common position.
The two parties already held a meeting in the Catalan parliament on Wednesday, with ERC saying it had proposed its idea of formal talks, and JxCat giving less away but confirming that the parties will continue to meet to discuss the issue.
As for the other pro-independence party, the far-left CUP, which won two seats in congress, it said on Monday that it will hold meetings this week with JxCat and ERC, as well as others, to tackle the issue of the upcoming investiture debate.
CUP wants cross-party opposition to Sánchez
Yet, CUP has called on ERC and JxCat to join them in a broad cross-party front to oppose investing Sánchez, and to call for an amnesty for the jailed independence leaders and self-determination as the best solution to the Catalan crisis.
Whether ERC can convince its membership, JxCat, and perhaps even CUP, to back its proposal for formal, mediated talks between Catalonia and Spain as a precondition for voting for Sánchez remains to be seen.
Yet, the idea of formal talks is not new, as the Spanish government suspended similar negotiations in February, ruling out a vote on self-determination after opposition parties in the Spanish parliament accused it of giving in to the pro-independence parties.