Spain definitively adopts amnesty law for Catalan separatists


Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez during the adoption of the amnesty law, May 30, 2024. SUSANA VERA / REUTERS

On Thursday, May 30, Spanish deputies definitively adopted an amnesty law for Catalan separatists. This flagship measure of the left-wing government of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez will allow the return of separatists still in exile after the 2017 secession attempt, such as Carles Puigdemont.

At the end of a very tense session of around two hours and in an electric atmosphere marked by insults, the amnesty law was approved by 177 votes to 172 (the absolute majority being 176).

This vote by the Congress of Deputies, where Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has an absolute majority thanks to the support of the two Catalan independence parties, is the culmination of a long battle which has dominated and radicalized Spanish political life since the elections. last July.

The deputies had already adopted the amnesty bill on March 14, but the Senate, controlled by the right-wing opposition, vetoed it two months later, sending the text back to the lower house, which therefore had the last word.

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The People’s Party (PP), the main opposition party, and the far-right Vox party delivered a last stand before the vote, denouncing a “political corruption”.

For their part, the two Catalan independence parties warned that this amnesty was not the end of their fight for independence, but a simple step.

“Forgiveness more powerful than resentment”

This vote is “a battle in the centuries-old conflict between the two nations”Catalan and Spanish, declared the spokesperson for Carles Puigdemont’s party (Together for Catalonia), Miriam Nogueras, referring to “a historic day”.

His counterpart Gabriel Rufián, from the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), the other Catalan independence party, warned that the ” next stop “ on the road to independence was the organization of a referendum.

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Mr. Sánchez says the amnesty aims to end the instability born from the failed attempt by Catalonia (north-eastern Spain) to unilaterally proclaim its independence in October 2017, when the regional government was run by Mr. Puigdemont, who has since lived in exile.

“In politics as in life, forgiveness is more powerful than resentment”commented Mr. Sánchez “Spain is more prosperous and more united today than in 2017”, he added. He did not attend the debate, entering the chamber just before the vote.

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The regional government of Mr. Puigdemont had organized, on 1er October 2017, a self-determination referendum, despite its ban by the courts.

Nearly a month later, the local parliament unilaterally declared the region’s independence, immediately leading to its placement under supervision by the Spanish government and the dismissal of the local government.

The main separatist leaders were then imprisoned or fled abroad.

These events were one of the worst crises experienced by Spain since its return to democracy after the end of the Franco dictatorship in 1975.

But this amnesty measure, which should benefit around 400 people – first and foremost Mr. Puigdemont – is above all the price that Mr. Sánchez had to pay to be returned to power in November.

The two Catalan independence parties, starting with that of Mr. Puigdemont, had demanded it in return for the support of their 14 deputies, without which Mr. Sánchez had no chance of remaining prime minister.

Since then, the PP has been up against a law according to it “unconstitutional”against which he organized numerous demonstrations.

” You lied ! »

The opposition never fails to recall that Mr. Sánchez himself had expressed his refusal of an amnesty during the campaign for the July 23 elections, before parliamentary arithmetic forced him to change his mind.

“You lied to the Spanish, because you promised not to!” »launched Thursday the leader of the PP, Alberto Núñez Feijóo.

“You are going to amnesty your investiture partners simply to stay in power”for his part, affirmed the leader of Vox, Santiago Abascal, also accusing Mr. Sánchez of wanting to divert public attention from ” Corruption “ and also reproaching him for the recent recognition of the State of Palestine. Mr. Abascal’s words triggered a violent reaction from the extreme left and socialist benches, from which “fascists!” » Or “pro-Nazi!” »

Mr. Puigdemont had said, during the campaign for the Catalan elections of May 12, that he hoped to be present for the investiture debate of the new government, which must take place no later than June 25.

But it is unknown whether the arrest warrant against him will be lifted in time. The Minister of Justice, Félix Bolaños, indicated that the law would be promulgated in ” the next days “ – the courts will then have a maximum of two months to apply it.

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The World with AFP

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