Spain’s caretaker prime minister voices strongest backing yet for Catalan amnesty

SPEAKING at a meeting of the Socialist Party’s Federal Committee on Saturday, the caretaker Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez gave his strongest backing yet to the idea of an amnesty for anyone who is facing charges for their role in the 2017 Catalan independence drive, saying it would ‘close open wounds’. 

The measure is one of the demands that has been put on the table by nationalist parties from Catalonia, in exchange for their support in Congress for Sanchez’s bid for another term in power. 

Although the conservative Popular Party (PP) won the July 23 general election, it fell well short of a majority, and was unable to form a government at a recent investiture debate. 

The Socialists, however, have secured the support of leftist alliance Sumar to form a coalition government, but they need the backing of a number of smaller parties to find the votes needed for success. 

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Caretaker prime minister Pedro Sanchez. Cordon Press image

Among these parties are Together for Catalonia and the Catalan Republican Left (ERC), both of whom have demanded the amnesty in exchange for their support. 

As negotiations behind the scenes ahead of an investiture vote for Pedro Sanchez have continued, the caretaker prime minister had avoided practically any explicit mention of the amnesty. 

But on Saturday he came out in full support of the measure. 

“Catalonia is ready for a complete rapprochement,” he said on Saturday in a speech to the federal committee. “The representatives of more than 80% of the Catalans back the measure. And for these same reasons, in the name of Spain, in the interest of Spain, in defence of harmony among Spaniards, I am today defending the amnesty in Catalonia for the events that occurred over the past decade.”

The measure, however, is being fiercely opposed by right-wing political parties such as the PP and far-right Vox. On Sunday, there were demonstrations in Madrid against the measure organised by Denaes, a foundation that campaigns for a united Spain. 

Vox was present at the march, although the PP opted not to attend officially. 

Speaking in Malaga, however, the PP leader Alberto Nuñez Feijoo slammed the words of Sanchez. “You have to be shameless to say that the amnesty is being negotiated in the name of Spain,” he said.

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