"Now it's up to the government to do something". That was the comment from the leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, after leaving Lledoners prison today having met with the president of ERC, Oriol Junqueras, for more than two hours.
"Podemos is negotiating in the name of Podemos, now it's the government's turn to make gestures", he said, leaving the prison, where Junqueras told him his party will not negotiate on the budget without a gesture for the prisoners. Iglesias argued his group had worked to contribute to a "climate of dialogue and easing tensions".
As for the meeting itself, Iglesias said it went "very well" and that the two parties "are very close". ERC, for their part, said that the meeting had been "useful" and "empathetic" and revealed the good understanding between the two parties.
Iglesias said they talked about "political, social and economic" topics, although not specifically about the budget, given that it's still "very early days".
The meeting, which ran from shortly after 4pm to 7.30pm, was attended by En Comú-Podem spokesperson Lucía Martín, third deputy mayor of Barcelona, Jaume Asens (ECP), ERC's spokesperson in the Catalan Parliament, Sergi Sabrià, and the party's spokesperson in the Congress, Joan Tardà. It took place with no dividing glass between the participants and without a time limit.
Iglesias argues for the prisoners' release
After his meeting with Junqueras, Podemos's leader also saw the president of Òmnium Cultural, Jordi Cuixart, and the prisoners from JxCat, Jordi Sànchez, Jordi Turull and Josep Rull. This was his first visit to Lledoners, although he'd visited Cuixart in June when he was in Soto del Real.
Talking about all the prisoners, he said that they should all be free and taking part in political life: if "people knew each other more, they'd hate each other less". He also said that, although he'd never supported the strategy of the independence movement, "they should be free". He added that he hopes he'll never again have to meet with political opponents in a prison.