Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy and Citizens (Cs) party leader Albert Rivera met at the prime ministerial residence in Madrid, the Moncloa, on Thursday to discuss their approach to the situation in Catalonia after last week's elections, according to sources in the Cs party.
The leaders of the two parties of the Spanish right shared their views on the political situation left by these elections, where in spite of the victory of Rivera's group –and the decimation of Rajoy's Popular Party - the constitutionalist block did not achieve an absolute majority. According to these sources, the meeting is in the line of the regular encounters that the two men have had over the last few months, and was used to make a “summary of the current political situation”, especially in Catalonia, after the elections of 21st December which, as the sources from Rivera's party put it, “were won by the Cs”.
These sources also reported that Rajoy and Rivera agreed on the need for the future government of Catalonia to “respect the Spanish constitution" and comply with the law in order to “restore social harmony”. Moreover, they concurred that the continuation of Madrid's direct rule of Catalonia under article 155 until the new Catalan government is constituted is a “guarantee that all Catalans will have access to public services”.
On the other hand, both leaders spoke about the need to urgently tackle the new system of financing of Spain's autonomous communities in 2018 so as to “provide a solution to the problems of the regions respect to the maintenance of public services”. Rivera also reminded the Spanish PM of the need to comply with the pre-agreements made in the Spanish Congress on budgets.
The meeting was held at a moment when both the PP and the Socialists (PSOE) have increased the pressure on the Cs candidate in Catalonia, Inés Arrimadas, to begin contacts to explore the possibilities of her investiture as Catalan president, in spite of the refusal by Rivera's party to take the initiative, given that the absolute majority of the pro-independence block makes any alternative impossible.
The pressure on Arrimadas has come from the PP spokesperson in the Congress, Rafael Hernando, as well as the organizational secretary of the PSOE, José Luis Ábalos. Both men have reminded Arrimadas that as the winning party, the Cs have the responsibility of attempting to form an alternative government to the independence-led coalition and have accused her of neglecting her duty.