Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s bid to have Catalan added as an official European Union language is running into problems, complicating his effort to draw the support of a separatist party whose votes he needs to win another term as premier.
(Bloomberg) — Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s bid to have Catalan added as an official European Union language is running into problems, complicating his effort to draw the support of a separatist party whose votes he needs to win another term as premier.
Sweden became the first member state to express reluctance for the push, with the government saying on Wednesday that it’s “hesitant” to add Catalan. Adoption of new languages require the unanimous support of all 27 of the bloc’s countries.
An inconclusive election in Spain last month left Sanchez as the front runner to clinch the prime minister job, but he’s still at least six seats short of getting a majority in the 350-member parliament. This puts secessionist leader Carles Puigdemont and Junts per Catalunya’s seven lawmakers in a king maker position.
Puigdemont has asked the Spanish government, which holds the six-month rotating presidency of the EU, to put the language issue on the agenda of a meeting of European affairs ministers on Sept. 19 in Brussels.
The Swedish government said in an statement that it was “hesitant” about adding Catalan and other languages to the EU, adding that the effects of such a move would “need to be analyzed in order to take a final position.”
Following Spain’s July election, Alberto Nunez Feijoo, leader of the conservative People’s Party, was tasked by King Felipe VI to take the first stab at trying to cobble together an administration. Feijoo will face a so-called investiture vote on Sept. 26 and 27 to see if he has the support of parliament. If he loses, as is widely expected, Sanchez would then try to form a government.
As part of political negotiations with the secessionist party Junts per Catalunya, Sanchez’s Socialist party in August committed to have Catalan, Basque and Galician made into official European working languages.
Neither Sanchez nor Feijoo have enough support to form the necessary majority to govern without the support of other parties. The Junts have said that any support for an investiture will require an amnesty law for hundreds of activists involved in the failed 2017 Catalan independence push, including Puigdemont, the regional president at the time and the current party leader.
Sanchez’s languages pledge came as part of an August negotiation for Junts to support the Socialist candidate to speaker of the house, an agreement that was reached less than two hours before the vote.
Although Junts have said that negotiations and any possible investiture deal are separate one from the other, failure to deliver on the promise will significantly weaken Sanchez’s position and will require him to present additional guarantees for any future promises, according to people familiar with the party’s thinking who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Feijoo’s People’s Party made a surprise announcement late last month that it is willing to hold discussions with Junts as part of its outreach to all parties ahead of the investiture, but an agreement is seen as highly unlikely given the People’s Party alliance with a far-right party that is staunchly anti-separatist.
–With assistance from Jorge Valero.
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