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The President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sanchez (left), and the President of Catalonia, Quim Torra, Thursday, December 20, in Barcelona.
The President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sanchez (left), and the President of Catalonia, Quim Torra, Thursday, December 20, in Barcelona. GEORGES BARTOLI FOR THE WORLD

"Faced with noise and gestures, dialogue, dialogue, dialogue. " The head of the Spanish government, the Socialist Pedro Sanchez, went to Barcelona with his ministers, on Thursday, December 21 and Friday, December 22, to hold a council of ministers relocated, where he had to ratify an increase of the minimum wage of 22% (from 736 to 900 euros per month over fourteen months) and an increase in civil servants' wages by 2.75%, as well as new investments in Catalonia. The opportunity to defend his policy by hand and, above all, to try to convince the separatists to approve his budget bill 2019, currently paralyzed in Parliament.

Thursday night, he held a brief meeting with the President of the Generalitat, the separatist Quim Torra, the second after the July in Madrid. In a joint statement, the two men pledged to work for "An effective dialogue leading to a political proposal with broad support from Catalan society". A general formula that allowed to hide their differences: if, for Madrid, the solution to the territorial crisis passes by a new reform of the statute of autonomy of Catalonia, Barcelona discards it and continues to require a referendum of self-determination . The spokesperson of the Generalitat, Elsa Artadi, criticized "The poor democratic quality of Spain".

Despite efforts by Pedro Sanchez to restore relations between the administrations, with the holding of more than twenty meetings between Spanish ministers and Catalan advisers, the tension continues. While the trial of the nine independentist leaders accused of rebellion and placed in pre-trial detention is expected to start at the end of January, the two pro-independence parties, Together for Catalonia (nationalist right) and the Catalan Republican Left (ERC), announced that they will not vote the budget, at the risk of precipitating the fall of the government of Pedro Sanchez.

"Independence Mantras"

With only 84 of the 350 Spanish deputies, it depends on the party of the radical left, Podemos, but also Basque and Catalan nationalists and separatists. Without a budget, the chief executive has warned that he will be forced to hold early elections next year.

In Madrid, the dialogue with the separatists and the fact that his government depends on their votes is worth to Pedro Sanchez constant attacks of the Popular Party (PP, right) and Ciudadanos (liberals), who face the pressure of ultranationalism Spanish now incarnated by the far-right party Vox. The latter promises a recentralization of the state with the suppression of autonomous regions, starting with Catalonia.

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