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Those who play the game of rugby will tell you, with pride, that although it may seem brutish, it’s a noble sport and one focused on getting away. We who don’t watch it much, and don’t understand it, only see how a group of talented athletes throw themselves on the player who’s carrying the oval ball. But the purpose of the game is not to block the opponents, but to get away from them and reach the try line at the end of the field. Inevitably, the other side does everything possible so that this doesn’t happen, by tackling them.

Well, now that the legislature is getting under way in Spain we are witnessing acting prime minister Pedro Sánchez making a clear play to block out the Catalan pro-independence parties, in a way that non-sports people might refer to as the "cold shoulder" method. The composition of the boards that preside over Spain’s Congress and Senate bears this stamp: an agreement between the PSOE and Podemos parties, a step forward and then the cold shouldering of all the other groups until majorities on the two boards are assured. Since Sánchez knows that PP and Cs will not reach an agreement on anything with the pro-independence and nationalist parties, why should he sit down to negotiate with them?

It is too soon to know how Sánchez’s PSOE wants to approach this new Spanish legislature, but there are indications that it will be very different from the months in which Sánchez was in government after winning the 2018 no-confidence motion and that it could be more like the second legislature of the two Spanish governments under Aznar and Zapatero, when both gave up any attempt to form substantive agreements. The independence movement must be prepared for this, since the fifteen deputies from ERC and the seven from JxCat are, whether separately or together, a 22-seat mass which is not insignificant. The inertia of the PSOE will be to opt for Podemos or Ciudadanos and only in exceptional circumstances knock on the door of ERC - the arithmetically more important of the two pro-independence groups.

Sanchez knows this perfectly and his movements to place Meritxell Batet and Manuel Cruz, two Socialists from the Catalan PSC, in the speakers' roles in the Congress and the Senate, will end up forming part of a powerful movement of blockade of the Catalan authorities to provide a different appearance to the playing field, which will feature the permanent incorporation in a preferential position of two Spanish authorities who are Catalan. The speakers of the two Spanish legislative chambers are situated ahead of the president of Catalonia. This has always been the case, but unlike what will happen from now on, in the past they were never actually there. Now it will be different and Batet and Cruz will be ahead of Torra. We're going to have some laughs.