Pedro Sánchez began his first attempt on Monday at noon to persuade the Spanish chamber to support his bid to continue as Spanish president, and made the most of his opening statement to send a clear message against the Catalan independence movement.

The Socialist candidate accused the supporters of a Catalan state of “going against history” for its desire to create even more borders within what he believes should be a stronger European Union: “What is the point of building more internal borders, when what we have to do is to knock down many external ones?”. He added that in order to contribute to a more greatly united Europe, Spain needs to be “united and diverse.”

During his speech he made many references to social issues and highlighted six main points that his potential second term would focus on employment and pension conditions, the digital revolution, the climate crisis, discrimination against women, socioeconomic inequality, and the creation of a more cohesive country within a successful European project.

His statement will be followed from 4pm by statements from all other parties, his replies, and yet a second round of declarations and replies for each group.

No certainty

The debate began with no certainty that Sánchez’s bid would succeed. The Socialists are in last-minute coalition talks with the anti-austerity Unidas Podemos group –if they don’t reach a deal, there is a very high chance that Sánchez’s bid will fail.

The talks, which include the Catalan branch of Podemos, En Comú Podem, are key for Sánchez, but not enough by itself, as he will also need at least one Catalan pro-independence party to abstain for him to be sworn in this week.

So far, Junts per Catalunya (JxCat) and Esquerra (ERC), who share power in Catalonia, have not disclosed which way they intend to vote. Senior JxCat MP Laura Borràs said before the debate that her party is “not very motivated” to abstain, but is looking forward to knowing what to expect from the potential coalition government regarding the Catalan crisis. ERC’s deputy president, Pere Aragonès, said his party won’t block Sánchez’s appointment if there is “a viable agreement” with Unidas Podemos.