SPANISH socialist party (PSOE) leader Pedro Sanchez is set to be confirmed as the country’s prime minister after the pro-independence Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) said its MPs would abstain from the voting process which starts today.

Spain was without a proper government for much of last year after two inconclusive elections, with Sanchez unable to form an administration.

He managed to broker a coalition deal with left-wing anti-austerity party Podemos after the most recent election in November, which left them with a combined total of 155 seats.

This was though, short of a majority in the 350-member Congress, which thrust the ERC’s 13 members into the role of kingmakers.

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The party said it would abstain from voting after the PSOE committed to an open dialogue on independence supporters’ wishes for Catalonia, which would then be submitted to a citizens’ vote in the prosperous north-eastern region.

Speaking to journalists, Catalan vice-president and senior ERC official, Pere Aragones, said he had told Quim Torra, president of Catalonia’s government, that ERC would push for a new independence referendum in talks with Sanchez’s government.

He said the deal supported the creation of a bilateral negotiating table between the Spanish and Catalan governments up to 15 days after the formation of the Spanish government, stating that “political means” should be favoured, while the “judicialisation” of the indy conflict should be overcome.

Both sides committed to “promoting the effectiveness of the agreements adopted through appropriate procedures” after consulting the Catalan public.

“Like any other conflict of its nature, it can only be resolved through democratic measures, dialogue, negotiation, and agreements,” read the agreement.

The ERC overwhelmingly backed the move, despite pressure from others in the indy movement, most notably Torra, who said: “I will not be the president who leaves the right of self-determination for later.”

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However, Aragones said: “We’ll take the risk … We haven’t come to fool people; we’ve found a tiny opening and we haven’t simply stopped dumb in front of it.”

Aragones said the agreement met the four conditions that ERC had set, but Jose Luis Abalos, a senior PSOE official cautioned: “A consultation is not a referendum on self-determination.”

Meanwhile, Spain’s solicitor general, Rosa Maria Seoane, has asked Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena to suspend European Arrest Warrants issued for former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and former minister Toni Comin.

Both Puigdemont and Comin are exiled in Belgium for their role in the 2017 indy bid.

Seoane said she believed Llarena should first ask the European Parliament to withdraw their parliamentary immunity before warrants for them were reissued.