9 Nov, 2023 @ 18:30
2 mins read

An ‘unprecedented attack on Spanish democracy’: Leader of Spain’s conservative Popular Party slams Pedro Sanchez’s Catalan amnesty deal

Dates revealed for parliamentary votes to make Partido Popular's Alberto Nuñez Feijoo Spain's new prime minister
Alberto Núñez Feijoo, leader of the Popular Party (PP) and candidate for the presidency of Spain delivers a speech during the closing political act of the Popular Party (PP) in Madrid for the general elections in Spain. The general elections for the presidency of Spain will take place on July 23, 2023. (Photo by Luis Soto / SOPA Images/Sipa USA) *** Local Caption *** 47418669

THE LEADER of Spain’s conservative Popular Party (PP), Alberto Nuñez Feijoo, made a statement on Thursday in which he slammed the deal reached between the Socialists and the Together for Catalunya party, calling it an ‘unprecedented attack on Spanish democracy’.

“The coup d’etat [in 1981], terrorism, and the Catalan independence movement in 2017 were challenges to freedom and coexistence,” Feijoo said from the party headquarters in central Madrid. “But in this case, the protagonist of this challenge to the values of the Constitution is a candidate to be prime minister of the government.”

Feijoo was referring to Socialist Party leader Pedro Sanchez, who has agreed to the deal with Together for Catalunya and another Catalan nationalist party, the Catalan Republican Left (ERC), in exchange for their support at an investiture vote that will see him voted back into office as prime minister. 

Spain has been in a political limbo since July 23, when a general election returned an inconclusive result. Feijoo took the most votes but fell well short of a majority. The PP leader was invited by Spain’s King Felipe VI to form a government at an investiture debate in September, but he failed to muster enough support from other parties. 

Since then, caretaker Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has insisted he has the backing needed to return to power, first agreeing a coalition deal with leftist alliance Sumar, and then seeking the support of other, smaller groups, including Catalan and Basque nationalists. 

Dates revealed for parliamentary votes to make Partido Popular's Alberto Nuñez Feijoo Spain's new prime minister
Alberto Núñez Feijoo, leader of the Popular Party (PP). (Photo by Luis Soto / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)

Last week the Socialists closed the deal with ERC, but negotiations with Together for Catalunya dragged on until the early hours of Thursday morning. 

In exchange for their support at his investiture vote, Sanchez has made a number of concessions to the Catalan nationalist parties, including an amnesty for anyone involved in the independence drive of 2017, which saw an illegal referendum on secession from Spain and a subsequent unilateral declaration of independence passed by the regional parliament. 

Feijoo also claimed during his statement today that the Socialist Party had ‘taken over the reins from Together for Catalunya and ERC at the head of the proces,’ using the Catalan word for the pro-independence movement. 

He also accused Sanchez of a ‘planned erosion of democracy’ in the statement, which was reported in Spanish daily El Pais

Street protests

The PP, he continued, will use all of the resources at its disposal to oppose the deal, including in parliament and the courts, as well as street protests. 

This week saw sometimes violent clashes between demonstrators and police in Madrid, as a series of protests were called outside Socialist Party headquarters to voice opposition to the amnesty deal. 

The agreement between the Socialists and Together for Catalunya now paves the way for Sanchez’s investiture debate to take place, possibly as early as next week.

Should the caretaker prime minister eventually fail in his bid to return to power, Spain will have to return to the polls in early 2024. 

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Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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