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That the acting Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, should be thinking about isolating the Catalan independence movement is at this point not a rumour, but a reality. What have been his first moves this legislature? A round of talks with all the political parties from which he's explicitly excluded the Catalan independence movement, and instructions to his colleagues to agree the composition of the Congress's governing Board without them. They're not trivial gestures, especially if you take into account that, for example, Esquerra Republicana has 15 seats, that it won the Spanish general election in Catalonia and that its participation in the legislature should be important if Sánchez doesn't want to have to reach agreements with Ciudadanos.

But Sánchez, who says he feels scalded over relations with independence supporters in the last legislature, doesn't want to be tied down and trusts that he'll get the pro-independence movement's votes at some point or other "through necessity or through fighting between them". Certainly politics is curious and that Sánchez should act in this way precisely the week that he needs independence supporters to vote for Miquel Iceta in the Catalan Parliament as an autonomous community senator1 so he can become Senate speaker is at least surprising. It's even a little masochistic, at least in terms of not centring the debate on Iceta, who has no role in the campaign for the municipal elections, without knowing for certain how his candidacy for the upper chamber will turn out. Knowing Sánchez, nothing can be counted out, not even that he's wanted to burn Iceta. The acting prime minister always keeps his options open and it may be worth remembering that although initially he supported him more than anybody, Iceta has also had his wobbles: he sided with former Andalusian president Susana Díaz.

What's certain is that his candidacy for the Senate is becoming quite the struggle for PSC's first secretary as it grows more difficult with every day that passes for ERC and JxCat to explain to their bases something they could have nipped in the bud from the start by invoking the parliamentary courtesy which has previously allowed each party to choose whoever they want as autonomous community senators within their quota. But explaining that now is extremely difficult for two reasons: nobody as closely identifies PSC with the approval of article 155 of the Constitution as Miquel Iceta and, secondly, the PSC's leader has one by one discarded all the suggestions the independence movement has made for it to provide him with senator status. At this point, it's clear that giving him the office for free is much more difficult. And the clock keeps ticking and the vote in the Parliament is this Thursday. It could almost be an homage to the actress who died this Monday, Doris Day, and the song she made famous in The Man Who Knew Too Much by Alfred Hitchcock: Qué Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be).

 

Translator's note: 1. The majority of Spain's senators are elected directly, four per province. Each autonomous community, however, also gets one extra senator per million residents, voted on by the autonomous community's parliament.

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