Read in Catalan

On this roller coaster which Pedro Sánchez has turned his investiture as prime minister of Spain into, nothing is exactly as it seems. And when it appeared that everything was about to come off the rails, the candidate has once again made an abrupt change of strategy and it now seems that there is a new script in which the agreement between PSOE and Podemos is feasible and the latter can profit from an offer that is something better than inviting them to be part of the decor. Until about 1pm this Thursday, when the second and final investiture vote will take place in the Congress, we are likely to witness new moves by the candidate, determined as he is to have a government that in practice is a nearly one-party executive even when it's described as cooperative or a coalition.

Those who know him well assert that his final say on the matter is not yet set in stone and that he could end up opting for either of the two possible paths, agreement or an election, depending on whether he ends up exhibiting his most pragmatic self or, on the contrary, he jumps headfirst into the adventure of a new election. The clearest example that Sánchez has a hesitant strategy is that while he was incomprehensibly pouncing on Iglesias on Monday, almost forcing Unidas Podemos’ no vote, only 24 hours later he backtracked and the Socialists tried to show their more open-to-dialogue and possibilist face. That is the disadvantage of moving to the sound of social networks or the latest survey. Something must not be going so well within the acting Spanish government when they are shouting to the four winds that they will improve the offer to Podemos right when the most widespread opinion is that Sanchez has lost the battle over the narrative and when the astute Iglesias is making him appear, in the eyes of the left, as the one responsible for there not being a coalition government like in the rest of Europe. We shall see what's left inside the hat of the magician’s apprentice and, above all, what he's willing to pull out of it when so many people have been watching the trick live for two days on TV.

Regarding Catalonia, the review of the two days is that Sánchez is several steps behind the motion of censure from a year ago or the Pedralbes meeting with Catalan president Quim Torra and VP Pere Aragonès. If that December meeting in Barcelona could mean the beginning of something, the candidate for PM from these two days gives little reason for hope in the solving of the Catalan conflict. The mantra that in Catalonia "the problem is one of harmonious coexistence, not independence" may be awarded a prize for wit but it does not in the slightest have a chance to pass the scratch test for what the real situation in the country is. It is as useless as requesting dialogue between the Catalan parties, which would lead nowhere unless the same is done between Spanish parties, and between the Spanish and Catalan governments as well, or asking for an agreement that goes beyond 50% of Catalans when the agreement which already exists to celebrate a referendum of independence, endorsed by 70%-80% of the Catalan population, is ignored.

Manual de resistencia (literally, "Resistance manual") is the title of the book he published at the beginning of the year in which Sánchez explains two things: his audacity and his resilience. The second is not in doubt but the first is the one that sometimes is lost when it is mistaken by imprudence.