Spain’s Political Turmoil: Sánchez’s Proposal to Pardon Catalan Separatists

Spain’s acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has defended the amnesty law for Catalan separatists involved in the 2017 secessionist attempt in Catalonia, stating that it is the only way for the PSOE party to secure a majority to form a stable government. Sánchez discussed his ongoing coalition talks with regional parties, including pro-independence groups from Catalonia and the Basque country, with PSOE members in Madrid. He defended the amnesty in Catalonia for the events of the past decade and emphasized the responsibility to take the step to ensure coexistence among Spaniards.

Sánchez’s plan to form a coalition government with the parliamentary support of Catalan and Basque pro-independence forces is highly controversial and has drawn criticism from both the Partido Popular (PP/EPP) and the far-right VOX party. Around 100,000 VOX supporters demonstrated against a possible amnesty law, which they described as Sánchez’s “coup d’état.” PSOE’s decision to proceed with the amnesty law was also lamented by PP leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo, who called it a “bargaining chip” for the acting prime minister to stay in power.

Critics of the Catalan independence movement (PSOE) have been vocal, with former prime minister Felipe González and regional presidents like Emiliano García-Page opposing amnesty for those involved in the 2017 secession attempt. Former Catalan regional president and Together for Catalonia leader Carles Puigdemont has said he will only support the interim prime minister if charges against him and other separatist leaders are dropped. King Felipe VI nominated Sánchez to form a government, urging for “generosity”, “commitment”, “leadership”, and “policy” to resolve Catalonia’s issue and break political deadlock.

Sánchez also defended his decision to pardon nine separatist leaders convicted for declaring Catalonia’s independence in 2017, stating it was right and for the country’s best interests. PSOE has secured support from the left-wing platform Sumar, a group of 15 progressive formations, including Unidas Podemos, led by Deputy Prime Minister and acting Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz. The next few days will be crucial in Sánchez and Díaz’s ‘road map’ to form a government and avoid early elections, likely in January 2024.

PSOE leader Sánchez is seeking a ‘free hand’ in negotiations with Sumar, seeking a pact and strategic guidelines for future accords with other parties. The internal consultation will be online from Monday to Friday and in person on Saturday. PSOE’s Federal Committee approved a question to be asked to its militants, which does not mention a possible amnesty law. The question asks whether they support the agreement to form a government with Sumar and achieve the required majority, without explicitly mentioning an amnesty law.

SpainSpain's Political Turmoil: Sánchez's Proposal to Pardon Catalan Separatists