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PP and VOX team up to take down Sánchez’s ‘indecent’ amnesty law

8 months ago 27

The centre-right Partido Popular and the far-right VOX have pledged to actively resist through legal means, the approval of the amnesty law, which Spain’s acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez promised would pass parliament in exchange for Catalan separatist support for his second term.

Following the agreement on the future amnesty law for those involved in Catalonia’s 2017 secessionist attempt forged between Sánchez’s PSOE and the separatist Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), Sánchez’s path to a second term as prime minister appears to be cleared.

But the road ahead may be rocky, as the amnesty law, one of the main demands of the Catalan separatists in exchange for their support, will have to overcome the active opposition of the PP (EPP) and VOX (ECR), respectively, the first and third largest opposition forces in the parliament.

Both formations – which govern in coalition in several regions and city councils – consider the agreement, which Sánchez sees as an opportunity to normalise the deteriorating relations between Madrid and Catalonia, a “betrayal” of Spanish democracy and a bargaining chip paid by the Socialist leader to return to government.

PP will take all necessary steps against a law with “no legal backing”, PP leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo promised on Thursday, EFE reported.

It is a “democratic aberration”, a “moral indecency”, and a “humiliation to Spain”, he added.

“Sánchez is subjecting Spain to an indignity that is only his own doing”, Nuñez Feijóo added on X.

A ‘danger to democracy’

Fiercer criticism came from former prime minister José María Aznar, also of PP.

“Sánchez is a danger to Spanish constitutional democracy, and we Spaniards must realise this. He has put the Constitution and the rule of law at the service of those who want to break it,” he said on Thursday.

The new law must overcome its first hurdle in the Senate, where the PP has an absolute majority after the snap general elections on 23 July. The right-wing party will have the opportunity to at least delay approval of the amnesty law as it can decide whether or not to apply the urgent procedure to bills sent to it by parliament.

In its preamble, the future amnesty law will include, among other points, a mention of the need to approve it to “favour democratic coexistence” in Catalonia, according to an exclusive report by El País published on Thursday, which states that this objective will always be pursued within the framework of the Spanish Constitution.

But the right and the far right see things differently and are counting on the indirect support of the judiciary in their fight.

Indeed, a group of politically conservative judges within the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), the governing body of Spanish judges, announced on Thursday that it would meet next week to adopt a tough resolution against the amnesty measure.

The judges most critical of Sánchez claim that the future amnesty law “involves degrading and converting” the rule of law “into an object of marketing at the service of (Sánchez’s) personal interest, which he intends to present, from the rejection of political pluralism, as the interest of Spain”, according to the text leaked by El País.

The associations of right-wing and conservative judges assured on Thursday that the approval of the amnesty law for those involved in the events of 2017 is the “beginning of the end” of Spanish recent democracy.

Puigdemont keeping things suspenseful

Meanwhile, Catalan backing for Sanchez’s investiture remains incomplete.

As former Catalan president and JxCat leader Carles Puigdemont met with his party’s political leadership in Brussels on Thursday, Puigdemont, who is confident he will not face the Spanish courts if he returns to Catalonia, has left his final “yes” to supporting a second term for Sanchez with his seven seats in parliament up in the air.

There are indeed still some details pending, and there will be no final announcement from Puigdemont until everything is finalised, JxCat sources have explained.

On the other hand, ERC President Oriol Junqueras formally validated the agreement with the PSOE on Thursday and explained the pact to his party’s leadership.

“Our obligation is to guarantee coexistence (in Catalonia) within the framework of the Constitution,” the Minister of the Presidency, Félix Bolaños (PSOE), said on Thursday afternoon after meeting with Junqueras.

Although the separatists of JxCat and ERC have abandoned, at least temporarily, the demand for a referendum on self-determination for Catalonia, they have obtained from Madrid, in addition to a very generous amnesty law, other key political concessions.

Some of the most notable include the complete and gradual transfer from Madrid to the Catalan regional government of the suburban rail network (Rodalies), which includes the tracks, trains and funding and serves nearly 400,000 people daily, El Periodico de Catalunya reported.

The separatists have also improved Catalonia’s “fiscal deficit”, i.e., the difference between what the region contributes to the Spanish state and what it receives from Madrid, which the regional government, the Generalitat, puts at around € 22 billion

(Fernando Heller | EuroEFE.Euractiv.es)

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