"We've not come with the intention of blocking anything at all". That was the statement of intentions from ERC's Gabriel Rufián after meeting this Thursday with PSOE spokesperson Adriana Lastra as she meets the different parties prior to the investiture debate. The head of ERC in the Congress suggested they're willing to help Pedro Sánchez be reinvested prime minister, but warned they won't give him a blank cheque. The party hasn't confirmed how it will vote, because it hasn't decided yet, but it left open the option of abstaining: "Dialogue, dialogue and dialogue, then we'll see".
After the meeting, which lasted more than an hour, Rufián appeared satisfied. He said it's positive that the two parties should talk and recognise each other "to get out of the perverse cycle of repression and threats". He said he had been happy to talk to the "PSOE of Lastra and not that of García Page, Lambán or Borrell". That said, he emphasised that they reached no conclusion today, that instead it was the "first step to continue negotiating".
Discussing the contents of the meeting, although he appeared willing to enable the investiture, he warned that "the non-block doesn't mean giving Pedro Sánchez a blank cheque". He called on the acting prime minister to "be brave" and "not get up from the dialogue table". But Rufián argued that it's too early to take decisions over what they'll do in the end: "Things happen every day. For example, what happens on Saturday is important: if Ada Colau accepts the votes of a man who deported 10,000 people from France, it would grate a bit".
Rufián suggested new discussions "bringing together all the political sensitivities there are in Catalonia". "Whoever believes that with a sentence of 15 years for Junqueras we'll disappear is mistaken. Like they're wrong whoever denies that there are many views in Catalonia," he said. He refused to set out any red lines, describing them as "nooses around your neck", but said that "our proposal is the referendum - we're hoping for counterproposals and not threats".
He did say, however, that his party would not be responsible for the country heading to a second general election, as happened in 2015 when investiture talks failed. He suggested that another vote this time would lead to "fascism governing in this country".