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Madrid.—Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said yesterday he would stand firm against what he called “inflammatory” Catalan separatist rhetoric, hardening his stance towards the region and upping the stakes in a broader political game.
Sanchez has adopted a more open approach towards Catalonia’s pro-independence leaders than his conservative predecessor Mariano Rajoy, ousted in a no-confidence vote in June and whose government took control of the region for several months after it unilaterally declared independence in October 2017. But a deepening polarisation within Spain over matters of regional autonomy on Dec. 2 cost Sanchez’s Socialists votes in an election in Andalusia, one of its traditional regional strongholds, that in turn highlighted the risk of an early national election.
The Socialists control fewer than a quarter of seats in the Madrid parliament and need the support of smaller parties, including Catalan nationalists, to pass legislation, in particular the 2019 budget.