“A new stage of dialogue” which will allow “To end once and for all with division and confrontation”, declared on June 22, the president of the Spanish government, Pedro Sanchez, at the end of the Council of Ministers which had just approved the pardon of the nine independence leaders. The Catalan regional president and the Spanish president are to meet this Tuesday, June 29, in Madrid, in order to find a solution to the Catalan crisis.
The meeting between Pedro Sanchez and Pere Aragonès is a ” good thing, says historian Benoit Pellistrandi. The dialogue between the Catalan government and Madrid had almost broken off for three years. Grace last week was a condition for renewing this dialogue. “
“A difficult balancing act”
In exchange for the support of the separatist party ECR (Gauche Républicaine de Catalogne) for his re-election in power, in January 2020, President Pedro Sanchez had accepted the opening of formal negotiations between regional and central government. Only one meeting had been organized, in February 2020, before discussions were suspended due to the health crisis. This meeting, Tuesday 29, is therefore particularly important.
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“It’s a very complicated dialogue”, considers the historian, since the two men have “Totally different objectives”. The separatists camp on their position. They demand both amnesty for all those convicted or prosecuted for the events of 2017, but also the organization of a self-determination referendum.
Two demands rejected en bloc by the Spanish government, which finds itself in a very delicate situation. According to Benoit Pellistrandi, “The government must give pledges to both parties, those who want independence and those who are fiercely hostile to it”.
What to negotiate on?
If independence is a red line that the Spanish government can not currently cross, the latter could however focus the negotiations on three points, believes Anthony Sfez, doctor of law at the University of Paris II-Panthéon Assas.
First, the government will undoubtedly put forward the pardon of the prisoners, by insisting on the fact that “The right would not have done the same”. The government can also play on the budget granted to Catalonia: “The objective is to make it attractive, for example by promoting the development of Catalan infrastructures. “
Finally, he has one last card by agreeing to « reflect on a constitutional reform that would allow an increase in the autonomy of the region ”. Without going, of course, to independence.
What can we expect from this meeting? ” Not much », Moderates Anthony Sfez who nevertheless recognizes that both parties benefit from this negotiation. “ Pedro Sanchez needs the support of the ERC to govern, because he does not have a majority, and, at the same time, he is blocked by constitutional imperatives. This shows, in any case, that he is inclined to negotiate. For their part, the separatists are gaining time, to rebuild their health and acquire a broader social base. “
A divided population
The population is “ weary “By the Catalan question which has been bogged down since 2017, says Anthony Sfez. The positions have not changed: the Spaniards, who remain quite hostile to independence, even if the majority “Sees this logic of reconciliation favorably”. And a Catalan population in which there is a “Broad consensus on the merits of grace, but for whom this does not resolve the basic problem, namely the question of independence.” “
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The situation continues to divide. If the prisoners’ pardon has eased some of the tensions and created conditions conducive to dialogue, it also aroused criticism from a section of the population. Some consider that by granting this grace, the state has weakened and paved the way for a strong comeback of the separatists.
For them, the message is clear. ” I regret nothing »Affirmed the independentist, Jordi Cuixart, as soon as he was released from prison. ” Will the Catalan Republic arrive? If the Catalans want it, it is very likely that she will arrive one day. “