Pedro Sánchez once again put the Catalan debate at a point which suggests that his government is entrenched in a position of “referendum of self-government” or nothing. Although the proposal of the PSOE leader to renegotiate the Statute and submit the result to a vote is in no way new, the new tenant of La Moncloa, who has in recent days hinted at the possibility of a return to Article 155, has taken the opportunity of the new political year to place this offer as an uncrossable line in the face of the persistence of the Catalan independence forces to begin the debate with the State to convene a referendum on self-determination.
Since taking office, Sánchez has attempted to distance himself from the politics of his predecessor Mariano Rajoy as a leader open to dialogue and has stated in many occasions that the Catalan issue resolves around correcting the fact that “the Catalans have a Statute that is not the one they voted for.”
The immediate response of the PP and Cs was not unexpected. Both view any change in the relationship between Madrid and Barcelona as a “concession” to placate “separatists” and rejected the proposal outright.
In Catalonia, the proposal was met by pro-independence parties with indifference. In fact, only the PSC’s Miquel Iceta was prepared to defend Sánchez’s offer, saying that going through the polls a new Statute is “the only way out of the deadlock.” ERC spokesman Marta Vilalta said that “the situation will resolved by voting but the mobilisations of recent years were not for a new Statute.” Elsa Artadi also said the offer was outdated and called for real dialogue.