23rd February 2024
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PSOE preparing draft Catalan amnesty bill ahead of Sánchez investiture vote

Spain’s acting Prime Minister, socialist (PSOE) Pedro Sánchez, and the Catalan president, Pere Aragonès of the pro-independence Esquerra Republicana (ERC) party, have agreed on the terms of a draft amnesty bill for all Catalan pro-independence figures still facing legal action following the 2017 referendum. 

Sánchez and Aragonès spoke on the phone on Tuesday afternoon, with Spanish media reporting that they had agreed upon the ‘last details’ of the amnesty law. 

To be officially reinstated as PM after the inconclusive July general election, Sánchez needs to win support from at least 176 MPs within the 350-seat Spanish Congress in a key vote which must take place before 27 November. If he fails, Spain will automatically be forced to hold new elections, most likely in mid-January. As a ‘precondition’ for Sánchez’s investiture, however, the Catalan pro-independence parties, ERC and Junts per Catalunya (JxCat) had demanded amnesty for all pro-independence activists, among other terms.

Sánchez can already count on the support of the 121 MPs in his own PSOE party, the 31 MPs of Sumar – and the six MPs of Basque party EH Bildu. ALSO READ: Pedro Sánchez and Yolanda Díaz reach PSOE-Sumar coalition deal.

In addition to looking for the backing of ERC and JxCat (both with seven seats each), as well as the Basque Nationalist Party’s (EAJ-PNV) five MPs, Sánchez will also be seeking the support of the sole representative from the Galician Nationalist party, BNG. This would make a total of 178 MPs in the 350-seat chamber. ALSO READ: King Felipe instructs Pedro Sánchez to try and form a government.

Aragonès wrote on X (formerly Twitter) on Wednesday (see below): ‘Unlocking the amnesty law to cover all reprisals was imperative. We did it, we have an agreement. Now, we need to move forward for a broader agreement: resolution of the political conflict and people’s well-being, with the transfer of Rodalies [train operator in Catalonia, run by Madrid] and correcting the fiscal deficit.’

The agreement between the PSOE and ERC takes place after a meeting on Monday in Brussels between former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont (who leads the JxCat party) and PSOE organisational secretary Santos Cerdán (main image, and see Tweet below). 

Puigdemont headed Catalonia’s government when it staged an independence referendum on 1 October 2017 despite being banned by the courts. It was followed by a short-lived unilateral declaration of independence, sparking Spain’s worst political crisis in decades. Puigdemont fled to Brussels where he is currently an MEP. At the moment, he is still sought by Spanish Justice [see background to Catalan political conflict below]. ALSO READ: Puigdemont demands ‘amnesty’ for all independence activists as ‘precondition’ for Sánchez’s investiture.

JxCat and the PSOE still need to finalise a deal, but ‘the elements that need to be resolved are minor and secondary’, Jaume Asens, one of the negotiators of the left-wing Sumar alliance, said on Wednesday morning in an interview with Catalunya Ràdio. UPDATE: Puigdemont keeps Sánchez waiting on investiture deal.

The draft amnesty law will have to be submitted to the Spanish Congress, probably ahead of an investiture vote for Sánchez. Congress president Francina Armengol is due to announce the date of the session. ALSO READ: Pedro Sánchez: ‘In the interest of Spain, I defend amnesty in Catalonia’.

The right-wing People’s Party (PP) has said that the PSOE have signed a ‘dignity surrender’ of all Spaniards after reaching a deal with ERC. ALSO READ: Right-wing and far-right politicians join thousands in anti-amnesty rally in Barcelona.

In a written statement, they say Sánchez is ‘well aware’ of his ‘dishonest concessions’ that were published ‘late in the night and taking the advantage of a historic day for Spain’s parliamentary monarchy’, with the only goal of ‘hiding’ the requests by pro-independence forces over ‘the needs’ of the rest of Spain. The PP refer to Princess Leonor’s swearing allegiance to the Spanish Constitution after reaching the age of 18 on Tuesday. ALSO READ: Three ministers and five political groups snub Princess Leonor’s allegiance ceremony.

ALSO READ: Yolanda Díaz ‘looks for democratic solutions via dialogue’ with Puigdemont in Brussels.

ALSO READ: After Feijóo fails in his bid to become Spain’s prime minister, what happens next?

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