Catalan separatists amnestied thanks to a law of the Parliament of Spain

Spanish deputies definitively adopted on Thursday an amnesty law in favor of Catalan separatists, a highly controversial flagship measure of the left-wing government of Pedro Sánchez which will allow the return of separatists in exile since the aborted secession of 2017, such as Carles Puigdemont.

At the end of a very tense final 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.

The People’s Party (PP), the main opposition party, and the far-right Vox party delivered a last stand before the vote, denouncing what they described as “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 conflict that has existed for centuries between the two nations”, the Catalan and the Spanish, declared the spokesperson for the party of Carles Puigdemont (Together for Catalonia), Miriam Nogueras, who referred to as “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.

Mr. Sánchez says the amnesty aims to end the instability born from Catalonia’s failed attempt to unilaterally proclaim its independence in October 2017, when the regional government was led by Mr. Puigdemont, who has since lived in exile.

“In politics as in life, forgiveness is more powerful than resentment,” commented Mr. Sánchez on the social network he added. He did not attend the debate, entering the chamber just before the vote.

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.

It was one of the worst crises experienced by Spain since the country’s 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, in fact, demanded this amnesty 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 in arms against this amnesty law, which it considers “unconstitutional” and against which it has organized numerous demonstrations, the last of which brought together tens of thousands of people on Sunday in Madrid.

” You lied ! »

Opposition leaders never fail to point out 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.

This amnesty law, he said, “is an exchange of power in return for impunity.”

“You are going to amnesty your investiture partners simply to stay in power,” said the leader of Vox, 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 shouts of “fascists!” » or “pro-Nazi!” »

Mr. Puigdemont had declared during the campaign for the Catalan regional elections of May 12 that he hoped to be present for the investiture debate of the new government, the date of which has not yet been fixed, but which should take place in later on June 25.

But we do not know with certainty whether the arrest warrant against him will be lifted in time. The law must first be promulgated by King Felipe VI and published in the Official Gazette, within a maximum period of 15 days.

It will then have to be applied by the courts, which will not necessarily be a formality.

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