The hangover the day after the vote on the amnesty law that the toughest Catalan independence movement, the main beneficiary of the law, stopped in Congress left a bitter taste in Spanish society this Wednesday and showed the weak health of the coalition government that Pedro Sánchez inaugurated less than three months ago.
The parliamentary “no” of Junts per Catalunya, the party led by former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and the one that demanded an amnesty law in exchange for supporting Sánchez's re-election, not only complicates and delays the new processing of the law but also alters the government's parliamentary calendar and majorities in Congress that Sánchez believed he had guaranteed for your initiatives. Like the approval of the General State Budgets 2024, perhaps the most important planned for the coming weeks.
together conditioned his support to the coalition government of Pedro Sánchez in exchange for concessions. And the amnesty law for the Catalan independence movement that was not approved on Tuesday was one of them.
The party of Puigdemont, the former Catalan president who fled Spain after unilaterally declaring the independence of Catalonia in 2017, voted against because it considered that it left some fronts uncovered: the possibility that Puigdemont and other separatists would be accused of terrorism crimes or of high treason.
“A comprehensive amnesty, an amnesty that leaves no one behind. An amnesty that repairs the repression that the Catalan independence movement has suffered for many years,” said the spokesperson for Puigdemont's party, Míriam Nogueras, on Tuesday in Congress.
“This text is a good starting point. But you know that this law has holes,” he added.
“A selective and deferred amnesty is not what we signed,” Nogueras reproached the PSOE, Pedro Sánchez's party.
From Belgium, the former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont justifies the vote against his people. Photo: Cézaro De Luca.
The seven votes against Junts were a punch in the stomach for Sánchez, who It has been politically wasting for months in defending an amnesty that a large part of society rejects and the opposition parties, especially PP and Vox, reproach him.
Not even some respected members within their own party, such as former president Felipe González, are able to digest an amnesty that many consider “tailored” to Catalan independence supporters.
“In any normal democracy, a parliamentary defeat of this caliber makes a government resign“said the president of the Community of Madrid, Isabel Diaz Ayuso (PP).
“Sánchez has been publicly humiliated, trampled, with an amnesty law that they sold as impeccable, while all his partners insult the judges,” added the regional president.
For Isabel Díaz Ayuso, the president of the Madrid Community, Sánchez should resign. Photo: Cézaro De Luca.
“Incomprehensible”: the reaction of a minister
The proposed organic law for institutional, political and social normalization in Catalonia needed, to be approved and pass to the Senate, to have 176 votes in favor, a majority that represents half plus one of the 350 seats in the Congress of Deputies.
The PSOE and Sumar, partners in the government coalition, said “yes.” She was also supported by the Catalan independentists of Esquerra (ERC) – the party that governs Catalonia -, the Basques of the Nationalist Party and those of Bildu. And the Galician Nationalist Bloc voted in favor.
“It is incomprehensible that Junts has voted against a law that they have agreed upon,” said, dismayed, the Minister of the Presidency, Justice and Relations with the Cortes, Félix Bolaños.
From Belgium, where he has lived since fleeing Spain, Puigdemont justified the vote against his people: “We could not give our support to a bill that has important deficiencies that have not been corrected.”
“If it had our favorable vote, it would have invalidated the commitment to a comprehensive, complete amnesty, without exclusions. A commitment that we agreed for the investiture of President Sánchez,” added the Catalan whom the Spanish Justice considers a fugitive.
“The amnesty law is a necessary law and should not be put at risk,” said this Wednesday the Catalan president, Pere Aragonès (ERC).
The Catalan president, Pere Aragonès, warns that the amnesty should not be put at risk. Photo: Cézaro De Luca.
Clarín spoke with the spokesperson for the government of the Generalitat of Catalonia, Patricia Plaja.
-Doesn't the result of yesterday's vote harm the independence movement?
-The independence movement is always stronger when it acts jointly and in coordination and focusing on shared objectives.
-How does the Catalan government decode Junts' “no”?
-We continue to believe that an amnesty law is absolutely necessary and it is our will to continue advancing in the resolution of a conflict that is political between Catalonia and the Spanish State. At the beginning of this legislature it was the first time that, through the negotiation table between the government of Catalonia and the government of Madrid, Spain recognized that a political conflict existed. The amnesty law is essential to be able to end or minimize the damage suffered by people who have been persecuted for simple political dissidence.
-Did Junts, the parliamentary group that voted against the amnesty law, not consider all this suffering that you point out?
-I cannot answer for Junts. What is evident is that there was a great agreement with Galician, Basque, and Catalan groups so that the amnesty law could be voted on yesterday (Tuesday). It is important to be aware that this is a necessary law.
-Doesn't the Catalan government have a critical view regarding the great opportunity that was lost that, although it is not a return to the initial box, is a significant setback?
-This is not going back to the initial box. It is true that it is not advancing as we believed we would advance in this matter. But it was not the end of the road.
-Why is the Generalitat government so careful and so reluctant to make a value judgment on the behavior of Junts, the other Catalan independence party, which publicly shows that it does not correspond to that caution?
-As a government we are not going to enter into the consideration of what the strategy or justification is for making one decision or another and voting in one direction or another. What is a reality is that yesterday a good opportunity was lost. We have a State that has persecuted and acted repressively for years against the independence movement. There is a judicial authority that will make the political interpretations it deems appropriate to continue persecuting and repressing dissent, but that cannot be a reason for it to condition us. Politics must continue to be done on political issues. We cannot allow ourselves to be conditioned by the judges.
-Can you allow yourself to be conditioned by Junts?
-It's not about conditioning. The government is very clear about its roadmap: continue working to reach the self-determination referendum sooner rather than later and continue negotiating with the Spanish government.
-Is Pedro Sánchez's government choosing the wrong interlocutor by negotiating with Junts and not with Esquerra Republicana, which is the party that governs?
-There is a negotiation table between the Spanish government and the Government of Catalonia. We want all the powers that we have because what we want in the end is our own State. Meanwhile, we will continue fighting to achieve the self-determination referendum.
-Does the fact that the amnesty law has not been approved interfere with the government's intentions to negotiate a self-determination referendum?
-The amnesty law is very necessary. But it should not condition our objective.
-Could this referendum be held before the elections in Catalonia scheduled for next year?
-Today the conditions do not exist. We want a referendum with all the guarantees and that the result can be fully validated and recognized.