The exiled former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont has set out his conditions for supporting a new Spanish government led by the Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez. Puigdemont, who fled Spain in 2017 after a failed independence bid, said he wants an amnesty law and the end of all legal proceedings against himself and other pro-independence supporters.
He also called for the recognition of Catalonia’s right to self-determination and a mechanism to monitor the implementation of any agreements reached in negotiations.
Puigdemont’s party, Junts, holds seven seats in the Spanish parliament and could be crucial for Sánchez to secure a majority in a vote of confidence scheduled for September 27. Sánchez’s Socialists won the most votes in the July general election, but fell short of an absolute majority and need the support of other parties to form a coalition government. The alternative would be a repeat election in January.
Puigdemont met with Spain’s acting deputy prime minister, Yolanda Díaz, in Brussels on Monday to discuss possible solutions to the territorial conflict that has strained relations between Madrid and Barcelona for years. Díaz leads a group of far-left parties that currently rule with Sánchez’s Socialists and are open to dialogue with the Catalan separatists. However, Sánchez has ruled out another referendum on independence and said he would only consider granting pardons to the jailed Catalan leaders, not amnesty.
The conservative People’s Party (PP), which came second in the election, has also tried to woo Puigdemont’s party, but has rejected his demands as unacceptable and impossible. The PP leader, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, has reached an agreement with the far-right party Vox to support his bid for the premiership, but still needs more votes to reach a majority. The PP accuses Puigdemont and his allies of being coup-mongers and fugitives who should face justice in Spain.
Puigdemont, who is currently a member of the European parliament, said he was ready to negotiate a historic pact if his conditions were met, but warned that he would block any agreement otherwise. He said he did not want to pay the price set by Sánchez or Feijóo to become prime minister. He also said he was not surprised that there were no right conditions for negotiations yet.