The feuding between Esquerra Republicana and Together for Catalonia shows “that there is now a very significant divide between two parties that had managed at least to share the same broad vision and agenda until 2017,” said Lluís Orriols, a politics professor at Carlos III University in Madrid.
In contrast to Together for Catalonia, he said, Esquerra Republicana has abandoned the idea that independence could be achieved unilaterally.
For Mr. Sánchez, on the other hand, the return to the negotiating table presents two opportunities in the short term, Mr. Orriols said: “pacifying what has long been a hostile climate in Catalonia and at least avoiding that the conflict returns to the streets.”
Mr. Orriols said it also increases Mr. Sánchez’s options to remain prime minister should the next elections in Spain produce a result that would require him and his Socialist party to continue to govern with the support of the main nationalist parties of Catalonia.
Since the last elections in late 2019, Mr. Sánchez has led Spain’s first coalition government, alongside the smaller and more left-wing Unidas Podemos party, and with the support of Catalan and Basque parties to push legislation through Parliament.
In terms of actually resolving the Catalan dispute, however, political experts see little room for Mr. Sánchez to maneuver, as the leader of a minority government in Madrid and at a time when right-wing opposition parties, in particular the ultranationalist Vox, are pushing for more centralization in Spain, not less.
Wednesday’s meeting was the first of its kind since February 2020, when Mr. Sánchez had sought to kick-start the negotiations to resolve the Catalan conflict, but his plan was put on hold by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic that hit Spain particularly forcefully.