Spain PM to consult PSOE base over deals with pro-independence groups

Brussels, Oct 27 (EFE).- Spain’s Socialist Party (PSOE) will consult with its base to vote on a coalition agreement with the left-wing Sumar alliance and on whether they support PSOE’s attempts to join forces with other regional parties, including Catalan separatists, interim prime minister Pedro Sánchez said Friday.

Speaking at a press conference after a European Council summit in Brussels, Sánchez said he would address PSOE members on Saturday to outline his position on the “different aspects that are involved or that affect the inauguration process.”

“What we are going to submit for consultation is the composition of the coalition government, that is, the agreement with Sumar,” the interim PM said, adding that PSOE leadership would also take into account “whether the members of the party endorse the fact that we will reach parliamentary agreements with the rest of the political groups that will allow us to achieve a majority,” namely pro-independence regional parties such as the Junts Per Catalunya and the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), among others.

The PM did not provide any details about the nature of the negotiations with the various regional and separatist parties.

Sánchez’s plan to form a coalition government with support from pro-independence forces has led to criticism in Spain, particularly among conservative groups such as the right-wing People’s Party.

Junts leader Carles Puigdemont, who lives in exile in Brussels, has said he will only consider backing Sánchez if charges against him and other leaders of the Catalan independence movement are lifted.

The potential amnesty for the Catalan leaders who held an unsanctioned independence referendum in 2017 has generated widespread controversy in Spain.

When King Felipe VI nominated Sánchez to form a government earlier this month, the PM called for “generosity”, “commitment”, “leadership” and “policy” to solve the Catalonia issue and break the political deadlock in the country

The interim PM also defended the “difficult” decision he took over the summer when he pardoned nine separatist leaders who were convicted for declaring Catalonia’s independence in 2017, insisting that “it was right” and was taken for the sake of the country’s best interests.

In view of those in the PSOE’s Federal Committee who might be opposed to the amnesty, such as that of the president of Castilla-La Mancha, Emiliano García-Page, Sánchez said he respects the opinions of all the members, but at the same time he said he has “absolute and resounding confidence” that he will have significant backing because he has already spoken with many party leaders.

After highlighting the importance of the agreement that the PSOE has reached this week with Sumar, he reiterated his commitment to coexistence in Catalonia, insisting that he would continue adopting measures that are consistent with those approved in recent years that are geared towards normalizing relations and easing tensions with pro-independence forces. EFE


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