Spanish Catalan separatist party holds internal vote on whether to support leftist minority government

Today, Catalonia’s separatist Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) party will hold a binding vote on whether to back the newly agreed left-wing

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Photo: AP

Today, Catalonia’s separatist Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) party will hold a binding vote on whether to back the newly agreed left-wing government of prime minister-elect Pedro Sanchez.

Should the vote pass, the ERC is expected to seek “negotiations” on Catalonia’s future as the price for supporting Sanchez’s 158-seat minority government. All Catalan separatist parties are expected to align their views with the ERC. Between them, they hold 23-seats—enough to ward off no-confidence votes against the government.

Sanchez essentially cannot govern effectively without engaging the separatist ambitions of regionalist parties like ERC. In a country where most Spaniards, including Sanchez, oppose Catalonian independence, the prime minister will likely weigh the electoral cost of “dialogue” with Catalonia against the high risk of haemorrhaging more votes should he be forced to go to yet another election.

Although similar “dialogue” was suspended in February under pressure from the right-wing opposition, Sanchez is likely to be more open to talks this time round. However, he is unlikely to agree to “negotiations” if it means accepting a Catalan referendum. To this end, he will likely use the threat of the far-right Vox coming to power in another election—a catastrophic outcome for all separatist parties—if they fail to support Sanchez’s government.