Spain coalition talks: ERC agrees to abstain and clears the way For Pedro Sanchez

Although the Spanish economy, which came to a total standstill around two weeks ago, comes out of hibernation tomorrow, "lockdown restrictions will be maintained", says Spain's President. Credit: Shutterstock

Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) MPs are to abstain in a confidence vote this weekend, paving the way for a new term for Mr Sánchez. (ERC is the region’s oldest separatist party).

Spain saw two inconclusive elections last year, which has raked the country with political uncertainty and though the Socialist Party struck a deal to form a coalition government with far-left party Podemos after the second general election held in November, they still didn’t have a majority in parliament, meaning the need of support from other smaller parties, including the ERC.

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The future of Catalonia, a semi-autonomous region in north-east Spain, was a major issue in last November’s election. An election which came less than a month after Spain’s Supreme Court handed out lengthy jail sentences to nine Catalan independence leaders, over their role in organising an outlawed referendum in 2017. The Catalan crisis dominated the election campaign, with parties on the right – Vox, the PP and the centre-right Ciudadanos – taking a hard-line anti-separatist stance.

ERC have now agreed to abstain on the condition that there are talks on Catalonia’s future. The talks will commence within 15 days from the formation of the government. At this meeting, the deadlines for further meetings will be set.

The talks will aim to “unblock the political conflict over the future of Catalonia and establish the basis for its resolution”.

“It is a difficult, complex path. We think it is worth taking,” Pere Aragonès, Catalonia’s vice president, told reporters.

The negotiations between PSOE, led by Sanchez and ERC to reach this current agreement have lasted little over a month, after an election campaign in which both political sides attacked each other on a daily basis. Since the inconclusive election there have officially been three meetings between PSOE and ERC (two in Madrid and one in Barcelona), but there has been continual contact between both groups throughout the month of negotiations.

ERC’s abstention will allow the formation of the first coalition government since the restoration of democracy in Spain.

The inaugural session for the confidence vote will begin tomorrow Saturday, the 4th, continue on Sunday, the 5th, be interrupted on the 6th and resume on the 7th. The first inaugural ballot on Sunday is expected to fail, needing to obtain an absolute majority, 48 hours must elapse for the next vote, in this second vote all Sanchez will need for his proposed coalition government to go ahead is to receive more votes in favour than against.

As of then Sanchez’ coalition government will be formed, which will immediately promise before the King to comply with and enforce the Constitution.

The President will then make public the composition of the Council of Ministers and it’s likely that the first Council of Ministers will be held on Friday 10 January.



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