Acting Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has had plenty to chew on over Christmas apart from his festive goodies.
He has had to try and break the deadlock which is preventing him from forming a progressive left-wing coalition. At the moment, it depends very much on the pro-independence Esquerra Republicana Catalana (ERC). Sanchez wants their support or at least for them to abstain at his pending investiture.
However, as I have mentioned previously, ERC have demands Sanchez, in line with the Constitution, cannot meet - primarily a full on legal Catalan referendum.
Firstly, any referendum has to be approved by parliament and secondly, according to the Constitution, if there is to be a referendum, it has to be held at a national level, unilateral referendums are not permitted.
So, what’s Sanchez to do?
And, while having to keep the left on side, he cannot afford to upset the new look right too much, in particular the extreme right party Vox, and its best mate the Partido Popular, who has sparked fresh talks of “Spexit”, Spain leaving the European Union. And, this is not the first time that europhobic sparks have flown over the Catalan issue - pro-independence activists have tried to shame the EU in the past, to mixed results. But it is the first time that a major political party in a traditionally pro-European country like Spain has openly considered leaving the club.