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Sánchez says he will call Catalan president Torra

Announcement comes after being nominated presidential candidate by King Felipe VI

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11 December 2019 09:49 PM

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ACN|Barcelona

Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez said on Wednesday evening that he will call Catalan president Quim Torra after being greenlighted as presidential candidate by King Felipe VI of Spain.

The king's proposal was made public following his round of talks with party leaders and announced by congress speaker Meritxell Batet after meeting with the monarch at the Zarzuela Palace.

When exactly a congressional vote on Sanchez's presidency will take place, however, is not yet clear as it hinges upon ongoing negotiations between the Socialists and pro-independence Esquerra Republicana as his party did not obtain an absolute majority in the snap general election on November 10.

Ongoing talks between Socialists and pro-independence ERC

Both political forces have met three times in the past month to seek a deal, but while both sides say there has been "progression" in the talks, no conclusion has been reached yet.

  • "We want the Catalan and Spanish governments to talk on an equal footing"

    Meritxell Budó · Catalan government spokesperson

"We see advances in the definition of the necessary tools to channel the political conflict over Catalonia’s future, which we hope to address through mutual respect and recognition," read a joint statement after officials met in Barcelona in the third encounter since the November 10 general election.

The Socialists’ 120 seats, combined with the 35 won by anti-austerity Podemos, leave them short of the majority in the 350-seat congress. The reelection of the Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez as Spain’s president is partly in the hands of ERC’s 13 lawmakers.

President Torra's response

On Thursday morning, sources close to the Catalan president, Quim Torra, said to the Catalan News Agency that Spain's acting leader Sánchez calling him as part of talks with regional heads solves "nothing" in the conflict between Catalonia and Spain. 

The same sources urged Madrid "courage" and "institutional respect." In order to support Sánchez's presidency bid, they also ask for the "end of repression" and "a democratic proposal" to find a way out to self-determination calls. 

"We want the Catalan and Spanish governments to talk on an equal footing, to recognize each other as political actors, and to have a proposal that allows exercising the right to self-determination," said Catalan government spokesperson Meritxell Budó.

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