17 Jun, 2024 @ 18:51
2 mins read

Carles Puigdemont accuses Pedro Sanchez of ‘blackmail’: Spain’s Prime Minister promises Catalunya additional funding if Socialist ally becomes regional president

The pro-independence leader hopes to become the new President of Catalunya, seven-and-a-half years after he was forced into exile

CARLES Puigdemont, the Catalan pro-independence leader and fugitive from Spanish justice, has accused Pedro Sanchez of ‘blackmail’ after the Prime Minister promised additional funding for Catalunya if his Socialist candidate is invested as regional president.

The leader of Junts per Catalunya launched the attack after reports emerged that Sanchez was offering Esquerra Republicana (ERC), a left-wing pro-independence party, a guarantee that Catalunya’s funding model would be re-evaluated if they lend their support to Salvador Illa, the Socialist candidate for regional president and Puigdemont’s main rival. 

Illa and Puigdemont are the two leading candidates for President of Catalunya, but both have been forced to begin negotiations with other parties after last month’s elections proved inconclusive.

Illa’s PSC party – the Catalan branch of Sanchez’s ruling PSOE socialists – won 42 seats, whilst separatist Junts won 35, putting both parties well below the 68-seat threshold needed to command a majority in the regional chamber, known as the Generalitat.

READ MORE: Could Carles Puigdemont return as President of Catalunya? Pro-independence parties pave the way by uniting against Socialists in vote for parliamentary speaker – in blow for PM Pedro Sanchez

The PSC’s candidate for the presidency of the Generalitat, Salvador Illa, needs the support of the pro-independence ERC. Credit: Cordon Press

Illa will be able to become President if he can convince the ERC, who won 20 seats, to support him, as he already has the backing of Comuns, a left-wing coalition which scored six seats.

However, the kingmaker party, led by incumbent regional president Pere Aragones, finalised a backroom deal with Junts and Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) last week to install a former separatist leader and Puigdemont ally who spent over three years in prison for his role in the 2017 independence bid as parliamentary speaker, providing a boost to Puigdemont’s hopes of returning as Catalan president. 

Puigdemont would require the support of the pro-independence parties and the abstention of the PSC in order to secure the majority required to be invested as president.

In an interview with La Vanguardia, Catalunya’s leading newspaper, Sanchez confirmed that the idea of a ‘singular financing’ for Catalunya was ‘feasible’, a policy proposed by the ERC.

That move would see Catalunya assume control over the management of 100% of the region’s taxes, in contrast to the 9% it currently has autonomy over.

Puigdemont took to X to respond, telling his 798,000 followers that the news was a ‘scandal’ and an ‘injustice’ whilst threatening to remove his Junts’ party’s support in the national congress which helps to prop up Sanchez’s coalition government.

He tweeted: “The news that the PSOE is offering single funding if it supports a government led by its government in Catalonia is a scandal in every way, and President Sanchez would need to answer several questions if he intends to count on the support that has allowed him to lead the Spanish government despite his defeat at the polls”.

He added: “Does he think that the funding we Catalans deserve depends on whether his party’s candidate is elected president? All the injustice we suffer, all the money that goes away, all the lack of budget execution we have so far is due to the fact that your party does not preside over the Generalitat? Otherwise how do you explain the very low implementation of the general budgets of the state in Catalunya? Does he not think that with his blackmail he is giving arguments to the Spanish who think that we Catalans are demanding a treatment that we do not deserve”.

“Catalunya needs its own economic concert not as a concession for one or the other to govern, but because the people of Catalunya have demanded it through their Parliament and ratified it in different elections”.

He added that ‘playing with the well-being and future of Catalans as a currency of exchange for benefits for the party seems immoral to me’ and ‘all Catalans have been denouncing the injustice for years’.

Ben Pawlowski

Ben joined the Olive Press in January 2024 after a four-month stint teaching English in Paraguay. He loves the adrenaline rush of a breaking news story and the tireless work required to uncover an eye-opening exclusive. He is currently based in Barcelona from where he covers the city, the wider Catalunya region, and the north of Spain. Send tips to ben@theolivepress.es

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