SPAIN’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has said he is ready to talk about the future of Catalonia through “political and democratic routes” with the resumption of a bilateral commission that last convened more than a year ago.

The move came after pressure from the Republic Left (ERC) spokesman in the Spanish Congress, Gabriel Rufian, who said that if the world’s democracies were houses, “Spanish democracy would be a shack”.

Socialist Sanchez has already lost his health minister and vice-president to local elections in Catalonia and Madrid respectively, and Rufian reminded him that he needed support from the pro-Catalan independence ERC for new laws, as well as his investiture as prime minister. Rufian asked: “The question is what will they do to try to dignify this hut?”

Sanchez thanked the ERC for their contribution to his agenda thus far, but retorted: “The Spanish constitution is the memory of many generations who died here and in other parts of Europe against fascism and freedom. Let’s not call it a shack.”

He said his government was working to improve democracy: “That is why we ask the PP [People’s Party] to reform the constitutional bodies and the constitution to improve rights and freedoms and redirect conflicts such as Catalan through legal and democratic means … We are waiting to be able to set up the bilateral negotiating commission between the Catalan and Spanish governments.”

Dialogue between Spain and Catalonia, however, cannot take place until an interim government is confirmed in the wealthy, north-eastern territory and a president installed.

The ERC’s Pere Aragonès is widely regarded as Catalonia’s president-in-waiting, but negotiations are still continuing and, until the matter is finally decided, Sanchez is unlikely to make the first move towards talks. Aragonès has publicly demanded that the negotiating delegations of the pro-indy parties reach an agreement as soon as possible, to enable his investiture and open the door for talks with Spain.

The first presidential investiture debate will be held later this month, but sources have hinted it might not be settled until after Easter.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the Catalan government, Meritxell Budó, has said an Amnesty Law Bill lodged by pro-indy MPs in Congress, has given the Spanish government “a magnificent opportunity to face the political conflict in a politic way”.

She said the Catalan Government was “waiting to know what is the proposal of the Spanish State for Catalonia, because apart from repression, we have not heard anything else in relation to the political conflict”.