14 Mar, 2024 @ 14:18
1 min read

Crucial victory for Pedro Sanchez as controversial amnesty law for Catalan separatists gets parliamentary backing in Spain

CONGRESS in Madrid on Thursday backed an amnesty bill for Catalan separatists by 178 votes to 172.

The lower house of parliament result is good news for Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, who’s had several problems in recent weeks including a procurement scandal over Covid face masks.

The bill now has to go to the Senate- dominated by the Partido Popular- but if it is vetoed, then Congress can override them at a future stage.

Passing the amnesty legislation is important for Sanchez as it was a key demand made by separatist parties in exchange for their votes in Congress for him to stay in office after last year’s election.

It comes six weeks after an earlier version of the bill was voted down by Congress members.

Drafted by ruling Socialists and two Catalan separatist parties, the text is the most controversial piece of legislation Congress has voted on since Sanchez came to power in 2018, even dividing his own supporters.

Justice Minister Felix Bolanos said the amnesty law would affect ‘around 400 people’ involved in an illegal Catalunya independence referendum in 2017.

Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont is already looking forward to ending years of self-imposed exile to avoid prosecution over the 2017 independence bid.

PUIGDEMONT- EXILE ENDING?(Cordon Press image)

Talking to reporters in the European Parliament, where he is an elected member, Puigdemont expressed his hope that the law would be in force ‘by the end of May’ and that he would return to Spain ‘soon after’.

As Catalan leader at the time, he led the 2017 independence bid, fleeing to Brussels to avoid prosecution, while nine of his fellow secessionists who stayed in Spain were tried and jailed.

Three years ago, the government pardoned them.

In the run-up to July’s general election, Sanchez had said he was against any offer of amnesty, but changed his view when no party could get an overall majority in Congress.

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