For several weeks, not a day has gone by in Spain without its share of declarations, controversies, attempts at deciphering around a possible amnesty for all those who participated in any way in the illegal referendum on independence in Catalonia, October 1, 2017.
This is the very high price posed by two Catalan independence parties (Republican Left of Catalonia et Junts per Catalunya, editor’s note), whose support of the 14 deputies is essential if the socialist Pedro Sanchez wants to be able to form a government. The legislative elections of July 23 did not in fact give a clear majority to either the right or the left. The Junts per Catalunya formation, led by Carles Puigdemont, in exile in Belgium, now kingmaker, is placing the stakes at the highest level.
A “Kafkaesque” situation
For the moment, there is complete silence in the Socialist Party (PSOE), where orders are given not to let anything filter through. It’s an unusual situation, to say the least. “Kafkaesque”according to several analysts, which we have been witnessing for weeks in Spain.
“All the jurists find themselves debating but there is no law on this amnesty, we do not know what it will contain, we are fantasizing”, says Edmundo Rodriguez Achútegui, from the secretariat of the Judges for Democracy association. The situation is all the more grotesque as a demonstration by the Popular Party (PP, right) is organized on Sunday September 24 in Madrid against this still non-existent amnesty.
During the following week, the failure of the nomination attempt of the right-wing candidate, Alberto Nuñez Feijóo, should be recorded, barring any last-minute surprises. The socialist Pedro Sanchez will then have two months to, in turn, try his luck at the nomination if he reaches an agreement with the Catalan separatists.
Discreet behind-the-scenes negotiations
For now, the question divides. “There is no unanimity among jurists as to whether an amnesty would be constitutional or notexplains Oriol Bartomeus, researcher at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. That’s the whole problem, this decision will therefore have a political blow and the Constitutional Court will have the last word. » Edmundo Rodriguez Achútegui notes that the government could use an old article of the criminal procedure law to try to avoid accusations of unconstitutionality.
Amidst the noise and controversy, “the government and the separatists are negotiating discreetly”, assures an observer who prefers to remain anonymous. In Catalonia, around a thousand people could be affected by the amnesty, including senior officials, members of civil life, civil servants or demonstrators who played a role in the fall of 2017. “If there is an agreement, Pedro Sanchez will have to explain very clearly why he accepts this measure so that everyone understands, otherwise only the arguments of the separatists and the right will prevail.»estimates this observer.
A complicated issue for Carles Puigdemont
But to take this risky step of amnesty, Madrid is asking independentist Carles Puigdemont to give up asking for independence again. Researcher Oriol Bartomeus asks: “The two Catalan independence parties hate each other and are raising the stakes to see who will have power. Pedro Sanchez is the victim. Is he ready to pay the price? » And how far?
Even if Pedro Sanchez is invested, his legislature will always depend on the goodwill of the Catalans. “The big question is whether Carles Puigdemont is reliable: if he asks for a self-determination referendum again, what will the government do? »asks this observer.
The issue is also complicated for Carles Puigdemont, still in exile in Belgium. The separatists lost nearly a million votes in the elections in July 2023 compared to 2017. They could lose even more if, as negotiations fail, a new vote takes place in December.
July 2023 election results
The People’s Party (PP, right) of Alberto Nuñez Feijóo, with 33% of the vote and 136 seats in Parliament (out of 350) did not obtain an absolute majority (176 seats). It seems unlikely that he will succeed in forming a government due to a lack of support outside Vox, a far-right party.
The Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) of Pedro Sanchez is credited with 122 deputies. He has enough allies to be able to form a government with the support of the Basque and Catalan parties.
Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ECR, 7 deputies) and Junts per Catalunya (7 deputies) are able to allow the left to keep power.
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