19th May 2024
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Catalan amnesty bill back to Spanish Congress after ‘symbolic’ veto in Senate

As predicted, Spain’s Senate House, which is dominated by the right-wing opposition, the People’s Party (PP), vetoed a controversial Catalan amnesty law on Tuesday, returning it to the lower house, the Spanish Congress, in a symbolic gesture that won’t stop it becoming law.

The PP presented a proposal to veto in relation to the bill to grant amnesty to Catalan pro-independence leaders and activists involved in the failed 2017 independence bid, which ‘was approved’, with 149 votes in favour to 113 against.

It is only a token show of disapproval as Spain’s Senate is not empowered to block a bill, only to propose amendments or a veto.

The bill now returns to the Spanish Congress where it is expected to receive its final green light in the coming weeks.

Tuesday’s Senate vote can be lifted by an absolute majority in the lower house within two months, or by just a simple majority once that period of time passes.

The law – termed the ‘Organic Amnesty Law for the Institutional, Political and Social Normalisation in Catalonia’ – seeks to draw a line under years of efforts to prosecute those involved in the botched independence bid that triggered Spain’s worst political crisis in decades.

The biggest beneficiary would be Carles Puigdemont – the former Catalan leader who led the failed secession bid who fled Spain to avoid prosecution.

Drafted by the ruling PSOE socialists and two Catalan pro-independence parties and approved by MPs in March before going to the Senate, the text is the most controversial piece of legislation parliament has voted on since Pedro Sánchez became prime minister in 2018. ALSO READ: Controversial Amnesty Law passed in Congress, will now proceed to Senate.

Catalan pro-independence parties including Puigdemont’s hardline Junts per Catalunya (JxCat) and its moderate rival Esquerra Republicana (ERC) demanded the law in exchange for their parliamentary support for Sánchez to secure a new four-year term in office in November.

The Spanish right and far-right parties – who see Puigdemont as public enemy number one – have been implacably opposed to the bill, accusing Sánchez of letting himself be ‘held hostage’ by the separatists in order to stay in power. ALSO READ: Thousands protest in central Madrid over government’s Catalan amnesty bill.

The separatists suffered a setback when they lost their ruling majority in Sunday’s regional elections in Catalonia where they have governed for a decade, with Sánchez’s socialists coming top. ALSO READ: Catalan pro-independence parties lose majority, as PSC socialists win elections.

Although they are now seeking support to build a governing majority, Puigdemont insisted on Monday that he would still try to piece together his own minority alliance to govern the region. ALSO READ: Puigdemont will still seek to become Catalan president, despite ‘pro-Spain win’.

Click here for all our reports related to Catalan independence.

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