Spain’s illegitimate socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez suffered a hard blow as the Catalan separatist amnesty law was rejected by Congress, including by one of the Catalan parties.
The bill was rejected by Junts (Together) who wants to protect their fugitive leader Carles Puigdemont and his followers against all charges, including terrorism.
Catalans argue that the proposed law don’t go far enough.
“‘We will keep negotiating with a margin of 15 days more. There is no reason to approve an amnesty law with holes in it’, said Junts member Míriam Nogueras. She said the Socialists warned them that the proposed amendments “could mean that the amnesty law runs into trouble in Europe,” but she said they were prepared for that.
The conservative People’s Party and the far-right Vox also voted against it, meaning the bill received 171 votes – five short of the majority it needed.”
Socialist Sánchez broke an electoral promise and supported the law in a ‘coup’ to retain power, gaining the parliamentary votes of two small Catalan separatist parties to form a new minority leftist government late last year.
The rejection of the bill highlighted just how fragile the artificial government is, even among its so-called allies.
“The bill, which is crucial to their support, could have paved the way for the return of Puigdemont who fled Spain for Belgium after leading the failed illegal secession bid in 2017, which brought the country to the brink.
Puigdemont and the Catalan independence issue are anathema to many Spaniards, and the amnesty bill has raised the ire of the conservative and far-right opposition parties, which represent about half the country’s population. Many in the judiciary and police are also opposed, as are several leading figures in Sánchez’s own party.”
Sánchez ‘coup’ led enraged opposition parties to stage at least seven major demonstrations against the law in recent months.
“The bill must go back to a parliament commission to be drawn up again within two weeks. It is not known if the law could come into force, as it would have to go to the Senate, where the fiercely conservative leading opposition party, the Popular Party, has an absolute majority. The party has vowed to do everything in its power to block the bill in the Senate and challenge it in court.”
After denying that the Socialists would grant the amnesty, Sánchez now says that the amnesty ‘will be positive for Spain because it will further calm the waters in Catalonia’.
“Last week, a national court judge, Manuel García-Castellón, issued a report suggesting Mr Puigdemont and some others could be accused of terrorist offences because of alleged involvement with Democratic Tsunami, a pro-independence activist group which staged mass protests in 2019, including one which brought Barcelona’s El Prat airport to a halt.
The terrorism claim meant that the former Catalan president risked being excluded from the amnesty.”
Amendments to the bill were negotiated to ensure Mr. Puigdemont remained within the amnesty’s scope.
The modification stated that ‘those involved in terrorist crimes that did not knowingly violate human rights’ were still eligible to benefit from the amnesty.
Bur Judge García-Castellón specified that Democratic Tsunami may indeed have breached human rights.
“In a separate development another judge, Joaquín Aguirre, raised the possibility of Mr Puigdemont being investigated for high treason for alleged contacts with Russian officials ahead of the 2017 secession attempt. That crime would also exclude him from the amnesty.”
“‘Sánchez has decided to be a hostage [to Catalan nationalism], but we Spaniards are not going to pay the ransom’, said PP leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo.”