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Spain’s hopes of having a new government could depend on Catalans keeping theirs

If president Torra is removed from office, Pedro Sánchez will have a harder time staying in power

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28 December 2019 12:28 PM

by

Alan Ruiz Terol | Barcelona

The fate of Pedro Sánchez at the helm of Spain’s government could be inextricably linked to that of his political opponent turned necessary ally: the pro-independence president of Catalonia, Quim Torra.

After winning a snap general election last November but falling short of a parliamentary majority to rule alone, Sánchez’s Socialist party depends on pro-independence MPs to stay in power. Negotiations have since moved forward, but Torra’s looming ban from public office could ruin Sánchez’s plans and set Spain for its fifth election in five years.

Recently convicted for disobeying orders to remove signs in favor of jailed Catalan leaders from the government headquarters, Torra’s 18-month disqualification sentence seemed far from coming into effect.

Yet, conservative parties fast-tracked the process by invoking a law aimed against the now dissolved Basque armed group ETA. Torra’s ban from office could be enforced as soon as January 3—that is, one of the days when Sánchez could bring his presidential bid to the parliament floor. 

Torra’s removal from office could further hinder the already fragile relationship between his JxCat party and Esquerra, Torra's ruling partners and the party whose supports Sánchez is seeking in order to stay in power. Unless both parties agree on a new leader, a snap election will be called.

The more feasible a new election in Catalonia seems, the less likely is Esquerra to help Pedro Sánchez stay in power and risk losing pro-independence voters to Torra's JxCat party and other political groups who are more reluctant to help the Socialist party.

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  • Catalan president Quim Torra (right) and Spanish president Pedro Sánchez (by ACN)

  • Catalan president Quim Torra (right) and Spanish president Pedro Sánchez (by ACN)