Sánchez pledges to leave 'judicialisation' of conflict behind in presidency bid amid Torra's ousting
Socialist leader vows for dialogue with Catalonia as Esquerra party confirmed key support to him despite electoral authority's latest decisions
"We need to resume the political dialogue, where grievances began to pile up, we need to leave the judicialisation of the conflict [with Catalonia] behind." This was the Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez's stance on the Catalan issue in his opening speech on his Spanish presidency bid, which got underway on Saturday at 9am in Spain's congress.
Sánchez insisted on the need to dialogue on the independence issue and put the focus on politicians and not judges, saying that "a political conflict needs to go back to politics."
Amid murmuring of the right-wing parties, Spain's acting president also announced that he would launch "a bilateral negotiating table between the Spanish and Catalan governments," as agreed with pro-independence ERC party.
"Resuming the path to dialogue, negotiation and pact is our duty," he added, although making clear that it has to be within "Spain's legal framework" and the "constitution."
For him, the judicialisation of the conflict has "caused big damage in Catalan society."
Torra's ousting in backdrop
This came only hours after Spain's electoral authority ordered that Catalan president Quim Torra be ousted from power after getting a not final disqualification by Catalonia's high court.
The electoral board also decided to not grant jailed pro-independence leader Oriol Junqueras his MEP seat, despite being elected by citizens on the 2019 European election and being granted immunity as such by the EU court in December 2019.
Sánchez had ensured a successful bid in the final vote on his presidency on January 7 after sealing a deal with pro-independence ERC, ratified by the Catalan party's officials on Thursday.
The recent decision by the electoral board cast uncertainty over Sánchez's bid which, if fails, will open a two-month period to find a candidate to lead Spain – if MPs in congress fail, a third election within a year would be immediately called.
Yet, Esquerra's executive board confirmed on Saturday morning that they will still enable a Sánchez government, while at the same time backing Torra.
"We're sure Torra will lead the Catalan delegation to negotiate with Spain at the end of January," ERC’s senior official Pere Aragonès said.
His party met on Saturday in order to "assess the consequences" of the situation, which puts President Torra on the verge of being removed from power.
While Esquerra did not change its mind over Sánchez, the Spanish Socialist leader began his opening speech in congress fighting the right-wing criticism on the deal: "Spain is not going to break, the constitution is not going to break, but the block will."