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The first part of Pedro Sánchez's appearance was to present his government's recovery plan to the Congress of Deputies. The second part, to fully enter the pre-campaign for the Madrid elections on May 4th. He had rebukes for many groups, including for the pro-independence parties, except for ERC, which did not take part in the debate after having had contact with a coronavirus case. He criticised Junts for pursuing a "purely symbolic" policy, without any "real utility". And he gave as an example the card which he called the "Catalan DNI", the digital identity card promoted by the Carles Puigdemont-led Catalan exile body, the Council for the Republic. "It's not accepted for any bureaucratic procedure but it costs 9 euros," said the Spanish prime minister.

 

This was in his replies to the different parliamentary groups. Responding to Junts MP Míriam Nogueras, the Socialist leader countered that one of the lessons of the coronavirus crisis is that "global problems need global solutions", and that this means a "federal Spain in a federal Europe". In this regard, he defended that "Spain is the vector for Catalonia to be able to deploy all its possibilities". For all this, he denied that an independent Catalonia would have managed the health crisis better.

In response to Ferran Bel, spokesman for the pro-independence PDeCAT, the Spanish PM reiterated that he still has the "intention" to raise Spain's state of alarm on May 9th, because "the autonomous communities have sufficient instruments and guarantees to be able to tackle the pandemic". However, Sánchez added that the central government "cannot place a series of restrictions on fundamental freedoms and rights in the hands of the communities without any control from the judiciary, because it would be a backward step in the democratic quality of our country." 

In the Madrid pre-campaign

And Pedro Sánchez launched fully into the Madrid pre-campaign. He asserted ironically that "Casado stew" is the best creation of far-right Vox . "A little from this, a little of that, and a little of Toni Cantó, who must be in all the sauces," the Spanish president said, in reference to Cantó, former Ciudadanos (Cs) politician who has switched to the Popular Party (PP) but been barred from representing them in the May vote. And he put his finger on the sensitive spot of the PP's internal differences: "I have seen him impatient to enter the Madrid campaign ... They won't let him." Vox leader Santiago Abascal was accused by the Socialist leader of "criminalizing" the poor and the immigrants and of going to neighbourhoods like Vallecas to seek "anger". He criticised Inés Arrimadas (Cs) for still wanting to return to her party's agreement with the Popular Party in Madrid, despite the PP decision to seek its own majority. He described it as "Stockholm syndrome".

ERC in quarantine

There was one group conspicuous by its absence in Wednesday's session: the Catalan Republican Left (ERC). The pro-independence party did not take part actively in the debate because its thirteen deputies are in isolation, after a staff member tested positive to coronavirus. They have been in confinement since last Thursday. However, they are following the debates and participating in the voting electronically.

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