Spanish president urges Catalan parties to back budget amidst far-right rise

ERC and PDeCAT faced with prospect of anti-independence hardliners coming to power if snap election is called

Catalan president Quim Torra (left) meets with his Spanish counterpart Pedro Sánchez (by ACN)
Catalan president Quim Torra (left) meets with his Spanish counterpart Pedro Sánchez (by ACN) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

December 5, 2018 12:55 PM

Spain’s president Pedro Sánchez revived his bid to pass the general budget with the parliamentary support of Catalan pro-independence parties, following the recent rise of the far right in a regional election.

The unexpected election results from the southern region of Andalusia last Sunday caused political turmoil: with far-right Vox entering parliament and support for Spain’s ruling Socialists plummeting, the possibility of Sánchez calling a snap election if he fails to pass the general budget is less probable than a week ago.  

Catalonia’s ERC and PDeCAT parties, which ruled out backing Sánchez’s budget, are now faced with the prospect of Vox and other forces with a hardline approach to independence winning enough seats to govern Spain, just like they did in Andalusia.

Ferran Bel, an MP for PDeCAT in the Spanish Congress, stressed that their position remains the same, but opened the door to negotiating their support for the budget if the government makes a "reasonable" political proposal for Catalonia.

Gabriel Rufián, an MP for ERC, made the party’s position clear: they demand the release of all pro-independence leaders in jail, the guarantee that those in exile can come back, and the opening of a debate on self-determination for Catalonia.

Barcelona mayor Ada Colau, the main ally in Catalonia of left-wing Podemos, which supports the Spanish government, urged pro-independence parties to back the general budget, warning them that the "delicate" situation of public services could pave the way for a government with Vox.

The Catalan vice president and finance minister, Pere Aragonès, made clear that they will only start negotiating their support for the budget only if the Spanish government is willing to discuss Catalonia’s "underlying problems."