Spanish president shelves dialogue table with Catalonia to focus on health crisis
“It’s logical right now that the urgent priorities are other things,” the Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez says in state address
There is no date set for the dialogue table between the Catalan and Spanish governments, as Spanish president Pedro Sánchez will instead focus on the worsening Covid-19 pandemic for the immediate future.
The sixth wave of the health crisis is seeing record high pandemic indicators and hospitals and ICUs in Catalonia are gradually filling up.
As such, the Socialist leader has announced in his state address given on Wednesday afternoon that his administration will focus on the health crisis.
“It’s logical right now that the urgent priorities are other things. We’ll tell them when we can meet,” Sánchez stated.
Entering into talks over the independence issue was one of the stipulations that Esquerra Republicana, the senior party in the Catalan government coalition, placed on their support for the Socialists to form a new executive in Spain alongside left-wing Unidas Podemos after the most recent election in 2019.
The two sides met in September for the first negotiations since before the pandemic where they agreed to favour “progress over deadlines.”
The next meeting is due to take place soon, but no date has ever been set, and, given the evolution of the pandemic, the Spanish administration will focus on dealing with the health crisis above all else.
In his Christmas speech, Catalan president Pere Aragonès of ERC said that “alternatives” in the independence push would be sought if his party felt that tangible progress was not being made.
Engaging in talks with Spain has long been a point of contention between the ruling parties in Catalonia, with senior coalition partner ERC open to dialogue, but junior partners Junts per Catalunya preferring an approach better defined by “peaceful confrontation,” as they are highly sceptical of the prospects of success by talking with the Spanish government.
In the last meeting in September, JxCat proposed a delegation to attend from their side that included party figures but no Catalan ministers, something that was rejected by ERC, as they felt that such talks were necessary to be participated in by the highest-ranking party officials possible.