Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Catalan Premier Quim Torra had a telephone conversation at 9.30am on Thursday in which they agreed to hold a meeting following the formation of a new government in Spain.
Together for Catalonia has always insisted on bringing an outside observer to the table
Sources at La Moncloa, the seat of Spanish government, said that Sánchez told the separatist leader that he has “the sincere will to try to sort out the political conflict in Catalonia.” The seven-minute conversation was described as cordial by these sources.
The conversation is relevant because it breathes new life into a relationship that had suffered badly after the Supreme Court ruling that sentenced leaders of the 2017 failed breakaway bid in the northeastern Spanish region to lengthy prison sentences for sedition and misuse of public funds.
The October ruling was followed by widespread street rioting in Catalonia and Sánchez decided to isolate Torra, refusing to take his calls until the latter openly condemned the street violence by separatist activists.
Searching for a date
On Wednesday, the spokesperson for the Catalan government, Meritxell Budó, said that Torra’s and Sánchez’s teams were searching for a date for a possible meeting between both men. Budó added that this meeting would serve to establish “the details and conditions” of the talks that are scheduled to take place between the central and Catalan governments over the situation in Catalonia.
Although Sánchez’s Socialist Party (PSOE) and the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) have already signed a document laying out guidelines for the talks, some of the conditions could change. Together for Catalonia (JxCat), another separatist party whose best-known member is former Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont, has always insisted on bringing an outside observer to the table. The PSOE-ERC deal does not include such a figure, but Budó on Wednesday said that Torra could potentially make this a demand.
Torra’s own political future is on the line after the Catalan Regional High Court found him guilty of disobedience
Sánchez on Tuesday obtained parliamentary endorsement for his proposed government after securing a pledge of abstention at the investiture vote from ERC, in exchange for a promise to start holding talks two weeks after the new executive is up and running.
Torra’s team has also begun contacting various leaders of the independence movement in order to bring a unified proposal to the meetings with the central government.
Torra’s own political future is on the line after the Catalan Regional High Court found him guilty of disobedience for refusing to remove pro-independence banners from public buildings during an election campaign, which violated regulations on political neutrality. The ruling, which disqualified him from office for 18 months, is not definitive until the Supreme Court issues a decision on Torra’s appeal.