Spain’s Sanchez seeks backing as PM

MADRID: Spain’s acting prime minister Pedro Sanchez, seeking parliament’s backing to form a government, pledged to resolve the Catalan dispute through dialogue as he received renewed support from separatists.
As Sanchez set out his priorities on Saturday in an attempt to end several months of political gridlock, he assured lawmakers that neither Spain nor its constitution would break.
“What is going to break is the blockade of a progressive government democratically elected by the Spanish people,” Sanchez told deputies in opening remarks as he kicked off several days of debates and votes in parliament.
Earlier this week, the Socialist Party leader Sanchez and Pablo Iglesias, the head of the far-left party Unidas Podemos, restated their intention to form the first coalition government in Spain’s recent history.
Since the two parties together fall short of a majority with 155 seats in a 350-member parliament, victory for Sanchez hinges on the votes of small regional parties.
Catalonia’s largest separatist party, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC), on Saturday confirmed it would abstain rather than vote against Sanchez in the second and decisive vote on Tuesday.
The party’s support had been called into question by a last-minute decision by Spain’s electoral board on Friday to block ERC’s jailed leader Oriol Junqueras from becoming a member of the European Parliament. — Reuters