Puigdemont sorprèn Weber ’in person'

OVERHEARD: CATALONIA’S PUIGDEMONT PITCHES ALLIANCE TO WEBER: Arriving at Tuesday’s gala, Catalan pro-independence leader Carles Puigdemont greeted the EPP’s Manfred Weber — and both discussed, in person, for what seemed like the first time, their view on Spanish politics. Playbook witnessed the scene.

On the Spanish deal: Puigdemont dismissed Weber’s criticism of his deal with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and argued, that “a consultative referendum” on Catalan independence was possible if politically agreed. Fellow independence leader Antoni Comín, who also stood in the group, insisted a referendum in Catalonia was legal under the Spanish constitution.

Weber’s view: Weber argued that the Junts party’s independence push would only inflame the far-right Vox party — “in fact, you are both feeding each other.”

Junts-PP alliance? But Puigdemont told a surprised Weber that he could even envisage a deal with Spain’s center-right People’s Party to topple the government of Pedro Sánchez halfway into his term with a motion of no confidence.

Keeping Sánchez on his toes: Asked by Playbook if we had heard that snippet correctly, Puigdemont confirmed: If “there is not sufficient progress” with Sánchez’s Socialist Party in negotiations for Catalonia’s recognition as a nation, “We could vote with the PP to topple the budget … or for a resolution on Israel, where our position is actually more aligned.”

Ballot boxes not bombs: A motion of no confidence was an option if Junts and the PP could agree on an independent prime minister to replace Sánchez. “But for that, the PP must make a step toward us … they cannot keep treating me like a terrorist,” Puigdemont said, adding his only crime was putting up ballot boxes.

Dead horse’s head: Asked about the “lawfare” controversy in his deal with Sánchez — which triggered criticism from Spanish judges’ associations — Puigdemont said it was a warning to those judges and politicians who he said had overstepped. “The term ‘lawfare’ is like the horse’s head in the Godfather — it’s a warning that we’re serious.”

29-XI-23, politico