The president of ERC, Oriol Junqueras, has told the leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, that his party won't negotiate on a Spanish budget for 2019 if there are no "moves" from the Spanish government over the political prisoners. Pedro Sánchez's government would need the votes of both parties to get a bill through the Congress.
Junqueras and Iglesias met this Friday for more than two hours in Lledoners prison, where Junqueras is in pretrial detention for his role in last year's independence push. The meeting, according to ERC's spokesperson in the Congress, Joan Tardà, was "useful" and "empathetic".
After the meeting, Tardà told the press that the two leaders hadn't spoken about the budget, beyond Junqueras communicating his party's current stance. He said they won't sit down "at any negotiating table without the necessary conditions being met". The conditions involve "important, prior moves" over the prisoners.
"The best way would be for the government to lobby the prosecution service," Tardà said. He also strongly defended the prisoners' innocence.
The meeting, which started shortly after 4pm, 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 Tardà himself. It took place with no dividing glass between the participants and without a time limit.
Tardà wanted to express "full-hearted" thanks to Iglesias, Asens and Martín for having visited the political prisoners. He emphasised the importance of it having been the president of ERC who reported the party's position to Podemos.
After Junqueras, Iglesias also met with 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.
The meeting was strongly criticised by Cs and PP. Cs' leader, Albert Rivera, described it as a "humiliation" that budget negotiations should take place in a prison. PP's leader, Pablo Casado, described it as an insult to the judges and prosecutors.
The prime minister himself, Pedro Sánchez, also wanted to distance himself from the meeting, saying that "the negotiation for the budget is done by the government of Spain".