The funambulist Pedro Sánchez has finally lost his footing. The one who came to power in June 2018 through a motion of censure against his great rival, the conservative Mariano Rajoy, has for his expenses. His parliamentary "dangerous liaisons" which had allowed him to expel the right of the Palace of Moncloa turned against him: the Basque nationalists and, especially, the Catalan separatists, decisive when it was then necessary to oust the conservatives broke the fragile alliance that united them in the Chamber of Deputies. And said "no" to Pedro Sánchez, at the moment when he presented his budget law, this Wednesday, indispensable for his stay in power. By 151 deputies "against" and 191 "for", his annual budget was refused.

The flamboyant socialist leader, secretary-general since 2017, sees his legislature truncated. The flip-flop of Catalan separatists, a sword of Damocles hanging over him since last year, has been fatal and should force him to convene anticipated general elections. Pedro Sánchez intends to gather his council of ministers first before announcing the polling date. According to insistent rumors, this could take place on April 28, one month before a group election – European, municipal and legislative elections. And, especially, well before the end of the mega-trial against 12 Catalan separatist defendants, among whom are former members of the regional secessionist government, who incur up to twenty-five years in prison for "Rebellion", "sedition" or "Embezzlement".

The revenge of the Catalan separatists

Yesterday, over a crazy day, the eyes suddenly moved from the Supreme Court, converted into a huge bunker guarded by 200 anti-riot police and invested by some 700 journalists, to Las Cortes (the lower house), about 500 meters from there, still in the historical heart of Madrid. The negative vote of the finance law has indeed grabbed the attention to the detriment of the most important trial of the last forty years of democracy. But only for a time: in fact, political news is closely linked to the unfolding of the same trial where, according to most analysts, nothing less than the territorial integrity of Spain, its great national debate.

Read alsoCatalonia: a trial in the absence of a process

The parallelism is edifying: the 12 defendants are judged to have violated the Spanish Constitution and forced a partition by organizing, the 1st October 2017, a referendum on the independence of Catalonia, banned and repressed by Madrid. In other words, they are accused of having implemented "the principle of self-determination of peoples" which, in the eyes of the separatists, is "A reason superior to the requirements of the Spanish institutions". But this claim of self-determination, the cardinal virtue of all Catalan leaders (that of the defendants like that of the "exile" Carles Puigdemont, the former Catalan president who fled to Belgium to escape the Spanish justice), is the one that they brandish today to justify their refusal to vote the law of finances of Pedro Sánchez.

Large gap policy

For many months, the head of the socialist government practiced a policy of the great difference difficult tenable: from the height of its very fragile majority (84 deputies out of 350), Pedro Sánchez held in unstable equilibrium thanks to the support of Podemos, on his left, and Basque and Catalan nationalists. In order to soften the latter, still in the regional power in Barcelona, ​​he maintained talks with them for months in order to "resolve the Catalan conflict". "The problem is that this dialogue should logically not succeed, says Jesús Maraña, from the online newspaper InfoLibre. This is because, on the one hand, the separatists do not want to give up their demand for self-determination and, on the other hand, Pedro Sánchez can not accept it. "

Read alsoIn Spain, right and extreme right parade together against the government and Catalan independence

The end of the legislature of the socialist leader has two immediate consequences. Economic first: the budget blocking does not prevent Sánchez's "social measures" (increase in pensions and salaries of civil servants) but prohibits the introduction of taxes to finance them (especially on large companies), this which should assume at the end of the year a deficit of 2.5%, far from the 1.3% required by Brussels. Politics then: the next election in April should benefit the three right-wing formations, including extremists Vox, rising. According to the Celeste-Tel Institute, this trio would have the favor of 51.2% of the votes, against 39.5% for the socialist ticket-Podemos. A prospect that saddened Wednesday the mayor of Barcelona, ​​Ada Colau, near Podemos: "This non-vote of the budget is a historical mistake. This is an open door to elections that could well take the right and the extreme right. "

François Musseau correspondent for Madrid

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