While seeking to attract the essential votes of separatists from Catalonia and the Basque Country to achieve a second term of government, socialist Pedro Sánchez celebrated this Tuesday (24) an official alliance with Sumar, a coalition of several left-wing parties in Spain.
Despite having supported the current prime minister in the election campaign and being part of the current government, Sumar had some demands for his 31 deputies to vote for Sánchez (PSOE) in the investiture that will take place in the coming weeks.
There is still no date set for this vote in Congress. Before him, Alberto Feijóo, leader of the PP and winner of the last elections, tried for investiture, but did not achieve a majority.
The new agreement with Sumar provides for a series of social initiatives, the most relevant being the reduction of working hours from 40 to 37.5 hours per week, that is, half an hour less per day. There is also a forecast of an increase in the minimum wage, a doubling of households that receive bonuses on their electricity bills and an extension of maternity or paternity leave to five months.
The text of the document, which talks about dozens of changes, was released on Tuesday at an event at the Prado Museum. Sánchez and his second deputy, Minister of Labor and also leader of Sumar, Yolanda Díaz, presented the agreement, but did not respond to questions from the press. The government, in fact, has recently refused to respond to journalists because it understands that most of the questions would be about the separatists.
To achieve his second four-year term, Sánchez needs the support of 176 parliamentarians, half plus one of the 350 deputies in congress. With Sumar and the PSOE’s own seats, it reaches 152. Four other parties that already support the current government have 19 votes, bringing the total to 171.
This is where the seven votes of Together for Catalonia (Junts), which has always been in opposition to Sánchez, will be needed. According to its leader, Carles Puigdemont, exiled in Belgium after a failed attempt to separate Catalonia in 2019, Junts has no other objective than the region’s independence.
In recent days, however, the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), which has always supported the PSOE, has also started to put pressure on Sánchez. Its leader, Andoni Ortuzar, stated in an interview with local radio that he would not like to disturb the socialist leader’s inauguration, but “the time has come to talk about the Basque national issue”.
“We believe that the time has come to call things by their names. We believe that Euskadi [nome do País Basco na língua basca] It is a nation, it has all the attributes to establish itself and be recognized as a nation, and it is time to start talking”, he said.
Ortuzar got to the heart of the matter: “In the end, we will be Basques and Catalans who will support Sánchez in another term in La Moncloa [nome do palácio do governo espanhol]. It is logical that, in this mandate, the issues of those who brought him to La Moncloa are in the political debate. We feel like a nation and our new political status must recognize that we are a nation”, concluded Ortuzar.
And a few days ago, the leader of Junts took to social media to position himself in a similar way. “Catalonia is a nation, an old European nation, which has seen its national status attacked by the Spanish regimes since 1714, which is why it sees its political independence as the only way to continue to exist as a nation,” wrote Puigdemont.
In the current Spanish Constitution, the citizens of Catalonia and the Basque Country appear as having “nationalities”, but the regions are not mentioned as nations, a fact that both would like to bring to the table now.
Puigdemont’s case appears to be more complicated than that of the Basque Country as the exiled leader wants the government to accept a plebiscite on independence in Catalonia. This, however, is seen as illegal under the Constitution and changing it would require a huge expenditure of political capital.