Fugitive Catalan chief holds key to Spain’s election stalemate

  • Shares and bonds fall as no occasion or bloc wins majority
  • Spain faces lengthy negotiations or new elections
  • PM Sanchez has extra choices with regional events
  • Catalan independence chief in exile publicizes powerful stance

BARCELONA/MADRID, July 24 (Reuters) – A Catalan pro-independence chief on the run from a Spanish courtroom could maintain the important thing to unlocking a political impasse after Sunday’s election led to a hung parliament.

Former Catalan regional authorities chief Carles Puigdemont, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Belgium since main a failed marketing campaign to separate Catalonia from Spain in 2017, unexpectedly finds himself a possible kingmaker after no left or proper bloc received sufficient seats to kind a majority.

A technique out of the maze could be for Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to safe a vote in favour, or not less than an abstention, in a parliamentary vote on forming a authorities from the Junts de Puigdemont occasion in return for additional concessions on independence.

The centre-right Individuals’s Social gathering (PP) and far-right Vox received probably the most seats in parliament with a complete of 169 – in need of the 176 seats wanted for a majority and puzzling ballot predictions.

The ruling Socialists (PSOE) and far-left Sumar received 153 however have extra scope to barter help from smaller Basque and Catalan separatist events, as they did after the 2019 elections.

Sanchez might win towards the left-wing separatist occasion Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC). However he’ll additionally possible want help from the more durable Junts, who have not backed Sanchez for the previous 4 years.

Junts normal secretary Jordi Turull mentioned on Monday he would use the “window of alternative” created by the electoral impasse to safe independence for Catalonia.

“The state is aware of that if it desires to barter with us, there are two points which might be basic and have consensus in Catalonia, that are amnesty and self-determination,” he mentioned in an interview with native radio RAC 1.

Turull was amongst 9 jailed Catalan separatist leaders pardoned by Sanchez in 2021 for his or her function within the 2017 independence bid. Nevertheless, many extra are nonetheless on trial, chief amongst them Puigdemont.

Puigdemont, who nonetheless wields appreciable affect inside Junts, mentioned in mid-July that the occasion wouldn’t again Sanchez as a result of he was unreliable. Early Monday, he tweeted that Junts is a celebration that retains its phrase.

Puigdemont was stripped of the immunity he loved as a member of the European Parliament earlier this month, paving the way in which for his extradition, as Spanish authorities have been demanding for six years.

The Catalans are more likely to play hardball in all negotiations after the election revealed {that a} rapprochement with Madrid hasn’t labored of their favour, says Joan Esculies, a author and analyst on Catalan politics.

“The independence motion continues to lose votes,” Esculies mentioned. “The one factor conserving them within the headlines proper now’s the truth that the mix of seats implies that the choice of Junts and Puigdemont…holds the important thing to forming the federal government.”

ERC and Junts, the 2 principal Catalan separatist events, misplaced 550,000 votes in Sunday’s elections in comparison with 2019, whereas the Socialists received 418,000 votes and have been the area’s most voted occasion, gaining seven seats at their expense.


Nevertheless, after profitable probably the most seats, the PP may have the primary likelihood to attempt to muster sufficient votes in parliament to win a vote for the prime minister. However his alliance with the far-right Vox and his powerful stance on separatism will make it tough to garner help from some other faction.

“It is a very tough state of affairs to resolve,” a Vox official instructed Reuters.

If neither bloc is ready to garner sufficient parliamentary help to kind a authorities, a second election is a potential end result.

Forward of the election, the PP appeared set to forge an alliance with Vox to control – an end result that might have introduced hardline nationalists into authorities for the primary time because the finish of Franco’s dictatorship and Spain’s return to democracy within the Seventies.

On this case, the Socialists carried out higher than the polls had predicted. PP chief Alberto Nunez Feijoo however claimed victory and urged different events to not block his try and kind a authorities within the title of stability in Spain.


Basque occasion seats are additionally more likely to come into play.

“After the elections we’ve very, very tough parliamentary arithmetic, but it surely appears our votes might be decisive once more,” mentioned Anionic Ortuzar, chief of the average Basque nationalist occasion PNV. The PNV received 5 seats within the decrease home.

Arnaldo Otegi, chief of the Basque separatist occasion EH Bildu, mentioned he would definitely not help the PP and Vox to kind a authorities. Otegi didn’t point out the probability of supporting a leftist coalition.

The slender margins imply that even the one seat received by different regionalist teams – from the Canary Islands, north-west Galicia and north-east Navarre – might grow to be decisive.

The legislation doesn’t set a time restrict for the method, but when no candidate wins a majority inside two months of the primary vote on prime minister, new elections should be held.

Spanish shares fell and authorities bond costs fell in early buying and selling on the prospect of a chronic stalemate.

Reporting by Joan Faus in Barcelona, ​​and Belen Carreno and Emma Pinedo in Madrid; extra reporting by Inti Landauro; Written by Charlie Devereux, edited by Angus MacSwan and Aislinn Laing

Our requirements: The Thomson Reuters Belief Rules.

Reviews on politics and economic system in Spain. She can also be the editor of Reuters Subsequent. Has been a monetary journalist and economics editor in a number of media over the previous 20 years.

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