THE socialist party of Pedro Sanchez, Spain’s prime minister-in-waiting, has said it is willing to address the “political conflict” with independence-leaning Catalonia as he seeks support to be reinstalled in office.

Party secretary Jose Luis Abalos said yesterday that they had tried to address basic differences with the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) to find an “appropriate” way of dealing with a dispute that “affects the whole of Spain”. He said: “We must not deny the existence of the political conflict that is obvious and face it from the political sphere.

“It is about looking from the assumption of the problem that affects the whole of Spain and finding a way of expression so that no-one has to resort to situate itself outside the legal system.”

The two sides met on Tuesday and, in a communique, insisted that there was a political conflict, compared with the “coexistence” proposed by Sanchez during the last two election campaigns.

Abalos said ways had to be found of overcoming “the misunderstandings” and to address the conflict properly.

However, he was reluctant to discuss the possibility that the ERC and Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) could reach an agreement that would have Sanchez installed in office by Christmas.

Abalos said: “It’s not in our hands, as you know, even though we try. Everyone has the time they have, and ERC has not asked us for any specific time, but we believe that … there is no need for delay.”

The PSOE failed to secure an absolute majority in the Spanish Parliament in last month’s election and Sanchez once again needs support from smaller parties to become prime minister.

Pro-Catalan independence parties, unfortunately for him, hold the key to his investiture.

ERC is one of those parties and it has said its support for Sanchez is dependent on successful negotiations on the Catalan conflict, which had proveda stumbling block for the prime minister in the previous parliament.