14th June 2024
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Pedro Sánchez: socialist win in Catalonia ‘ends decade of division and resentment’

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said on Thursday that his socialist party’s success in the Catalan elections ended a ‘decade of division’ in the wealthy region, long governed by pro-independence parties.

‘The Catalan Socialist [PSC] party’s victory … ends a decade of division and resentment within Catalan society and will doubtlessly open a new era of understanding and coexistence,’ the prime minister said in his first remarks since Sunday’s election.

Led by Spain’s former health minister, Salvador Illa, the Catalan socialists coming top in the vote was a blow for the Catalan pro-independence parties which lost their governing majority in the region’s parliament that they have dominated for the past decade. ALSO READ: Catalan pro-independence parties lose majority, as PSC socialists win elections.

Since becoming prime minister some nine months after the botched independence bid of October 2017, Sánchez has adopted a policy of ‘re-engagement’ with Catalonia to ‘heal the wounds’ opened by the crisis.

In 2021, he pardoned the pro-independence leaders jailed over the secession bid and has pushed through an amnesty bill for those still wanted by the justice system in exchange for key separatist backing that let him secure a new term in office.

That bill is due to become law in the coming weeks which will allow Carles Puigdemont – the Catalan leader who led the secession bid then fled Spain to avoid prosecution – to finally return home. ALSO READ: Catalan amnesty bill back to Spanish Congress after ‘symbolic’ veto in Senate.

Despite Sunday’s result, in which the pro-independence parties secured 59 of the parliament’s 135 seats, Puigdemont – whose hardline Junts per Catalunya (JxCat) party came second – said he would seek to build a ruling coalition. ALSO READ: Puigdemont will still seek to become Catalan president, despite ‘pro-Spain win’.

‘We have an opportunity and we will make the most of it,’ he said in the southern French town of Perpignan.

The Esquerra Republicana (ERC) group, JxCat’s more moderate separatist rival, lost a lot of support in Sunday’s vote, triggering a crisis within the party.

Even so, it is likely to play a key role in Puigdemont’s coalition-building efforts as well as those of the Catalan socialists, who won with 42 seats – also a long way from the 68 mandates required to rule.

Analysts say the most likely option would see the PSC socialists allying with the left wine Comuns Sumar, which won six seats, and ERC, which won 20, giving it exactly 68.

Click here for all our reports related to Catalan independence.

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