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Spain: Pedro Sánchez's socialists conquer Catalonia

The Socialist Party of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez hopes to show on Sunday that Catalonia has turned the corner. the back &agrav; his separatist inclinations, by trying to win the regional elections against the opposition. Carles Puigdemont, leader of the 2017 secession attempt.

Populated by 8 million inhabitants, this rich region in the north-east of Spain, which is one of the economic and industrial engines of the country, votes from 07:00 GMT to elect the 135 deputies of its regional parliament.

Polling stations will close at 6:00 p.m. GMT and the results will be known in the evening.

Closing the campaign on Friday evening in Barcelona, ​​Pedro Sánchez called on Catalans to vote for the “(social) progress”, living together and stability” that, according to him, the socialists embody, after years of “instability” in the region.

Mr. Sánchez, who is supported by the pro-independence parties in the Spanish Parliament, hopes to wrest from them the region, which they have governed for a decade, to prove that the policy of détente he has pursued in Catalonia since coming to power in 2018 has borne fruit and led to a reduction in separatist sentiment.

A clear socialist victory would also allow him to relaunch a mandate weakened by the opening of a judicial investigation against his wife in front of whom he considered resigning two weeks ago.

– Grace and amnesty –

Determined to “close the wounds” opened by the “political crisis” of 2017, the Prime Minister pardoned in 2021 the independence leaders sentenced to prison and agreed last year to adopt an amnesty law for all separatists prosecuted by the courts, in exchange for the support of their parties for his renewal for a new four-year term.

This amnesty must be definitively voted on by the deputies in the next weeks and allow the return to Catalonia of Carles Puigdemont, who fled the region in 2017 to settle in Belgium to escape legal proceedings.

Spain: Pedro Sánchez's socialists conquer Catalonia

Exiled Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont gives his last campaign meeting in Elne, in the south of France, on May 10, 2024 © AFP – Matthieu RONDEL

A very controversial measure, it brought the right and far-right opposition into the streets who accuse the Prime Minister of having become the “hostage” of the independence parties with the simple aim of to remain in power.

Behind in the polls by the socialist candidate Salvador Illa, Carles Puigdemont, regional president in 2017, wants to believe in his chances of “comeback” and victory to make a triumphant return to Catalonia, once the amnesty has been ratified, at the head of the region.

“On Sunday, this movement that they want to see defeated (…) will bang its fist on the table. These (Catalan) people have put themselves in marching order to win once again and be respected by all those who attacked us, pursued us”, launched the separatist, who is campaigning from the south of France because he is still under arrest warrant in Spain.

< p>Parliamentary arithmetic could, however, be complicated for the leader of Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia) who assured that he would withdraw from local politics in the event of failure.

– Divided separatist movement –

Undermined by divisions, the separatist movement is in fact far from assured of retaining its majority.

Spain: Pedro Sánchez&#39;s socialists conquer Catalonia

The regional president of Catalonia Pere Aragonès campaigns in Barcelona, ​​May 9, 2024 © AFP – Josep LAGO

Accused of being a “traitor” to the cause by Junts, the moderate ERC (Republican Left of Catalonia) party led by Pere Aragonès, the current regional president, is struggling and has lost a lot on the ground during the legislative elections in July which were marked by a strong push from the socialists.

The games of alliances are made even more difficult for the separatists by the emergence of a new party classified on the extreme right, Catalan Alliance, with which the the rest of the separatist groups have assured that they do not want to ally.

In the event of victory, the socialists, credited with around forty seats while the absolute majority is fixed at 68, will also have to find allies to hope to govern.

One of the hypotheses cited is an alliance with the extreme left, member of the government at national level, but also with ERC which would thus abandon the idea of ​​a unity of the independence movement.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116