You can only dodge a bullet so many times. The parliamentary majority that Pedro Sánchez forged in order to create his Spanish government in January burst a major leak on Monday with the announcement by the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) that they will vote against the fourth extension of the country's state of alarm this Wednesday in the Congress of Deputies. PM Sánchez and Podemos leader Iglesias have, at the time of writing, their own parties' 155 votes and eight more from small parties, which raises the figure to 163. In the opposition there are 166, if one adds together the seats of an extremely diverse amalgam of parties: the PP, Vox, ERC, JxCat, CUP and Navarra Suma. The five Basque deputies from Bildu will abstain.
As Sánchez simply needs more votes in favour than against, the key is in the hands, above all, of the anti-independence Ciudadanos (Cs) party, and to a lesser extent, the Basque Nationalists, the PNV. If Inés Arrimadas delivers her ten seats to the no total, Sánchez will have lost a vote of enormous importance in his fragile political situation, and it would force a strong response from the Spanish government. On the other hand, if Arrimadas aligns with the Socialists and Podemos, the Spanish government will have had a fright, but little more. The PNV would only come into play if Cs abstained, and then its six seats would be worth their weight in gold.
Since politics are, above all, interests, anything could end up happening by Wednesday. In fact, Sánchez and Ciudadanos have already held meetings in the past and Arrimadas will be tempted to accept an offer if the governing coalition makes one, as the party's situation is quite desperate, with an obvious internal fracture. In any case, what is significant is that Sánchez's blackmail - painting a fictitious picture of chaos if the state of alarm is not approved - has failed, and more important for Catalonia, so has the Spanish government's out-of-control exploitation of the state of alarm to blatantly take over regional powers and continuously humiliate all Catalan government initiatives, from its perch in the ivory tower of the single command.
But Arrimadas, in need of the prominence she had in the past to try and re-float the Ciudadanos ship, will have to choose between what her voters want and what she herself needs. The seductive Sánchez face to face with the disturbing Arrimadas.