Catalonia as an electoral asset. This is how Spanish presidency minister, Félix Bolaños, described it when faced with the critics within the ranks of the Socialists who have strongly criticized Pedro Sánchez's government for its policies towards the pro-independence movement. In recent weeks, several of the so-called PSOE "barons" have publicly shown more disaffection with the Spanish government's strategy. President of Castilla-la Mancha, Emiliano García-Page, has undoubtedly been the harshest, and with the reform of sedition and embezzlement, he has accused Sánchez of "negotiating the sentences with the criminals themselves", and said he was hurt "as a Spaniard and a militant". He was not the only one: president of Aragón, Javier Lambán; Socialist secretary general in Castilla y León, Luis Tudanca; and the leader in Madrid, Juan Lobato, have also joined in and asked to leave the agreement with Unidas Podemos and ERC to reform the Criminal Code in tatters.
However, according to Bolaños, this decision will not harm the party, rather the opposite: it will strengthen the Socialists come the elections expected throughout 2023; municipal, regional and general elections. The minister defended that the Spanish Government has laid the foundations for coexistence in Catalonia, which will be an "electoral asset" that will benefit all PSOE leaders running in the elections throughout Spain. "This is an asset that all comrades running for office anywhere in Spain will be able to use in their electoral campaigns," he said. Thus, he defended that in 2023 Spain, the Constitution and the law are being complied with, and political confrontations "are solved through dialogue and understanding", unlike in 2017, when he assures that the pro-independence movement was the main threat to Spaniards.
The current situation is the opposite. "We have managed to ensure that now, in Catalonia, there is no pro-independence problem", said Pedro Sánchez's right-hand man. To argue this, he used the answers given by Catalans and Spaniards in the polls as an example: according to him, this issue is now in the 45th place in the list of concerns, whereas before it was among the top three. The reason for this change in the public's mentality is to be found, says Bolaños, in the work done by the PSOE, which has managed to lay the foundations for normalized coexistence with "courageous and audacious" policies. This is how it has managed to put an end to the "unbearable" tension that existed in Catalonia.