‘Corruption’, ‘abolition of the rule of law’: Spain’s right-wing opposition and part of the judiciary are raising the bar against an amnesty for Catalan separatists negotiated by outgoing Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in exchange for his staying in power.

Second in the July 23 election, Pedro Sanchez has until November 27 to secure a vote of confidence in the Spanish parliament and stay in power. Otherwise, new elections will have to be called.

Nevertheless, to secure the support of the Catalan separatist parties whose support he needs in parliament, Pedro Sánchez accepted their demand for amnesty of the separatist leaders prosecuted by Spanish justice for their stance in the context of the attempted secession of Catalonia in 2017.

Having secured the support of the moderate Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), all he has left is the green light of Junts Per Catalunya, Carles Puigdemont’s party that spearheaded the 2017 events.

“We are in the final stretch of the negotiation that was difficult (…) and which will allow us to open a new phase in Catalonia, Jaume Asens, one of the main negotiators with Puigdemont, said today.

“Defense of Spain”

Extremely controversial, the amnesty plan, which must be voted on by the Spanish parliament, has provoked sharp opposition with the Spanish opposition threatening a series of appeals against its implementation.

The opposition accuses Pedro Sánchez, who, it should be noted, was in the past opposed to the idea of ​​amnesty, of being ready for anything with the sole aim of staying in power.

“Exchanging votes with impunity constitutes corruption,” said opposition leader Alberto Nunez Feijo, who won the election but failed to secure a parliamentary majority to become prime minister, during a meeting of the People’s Party in the Basque Country on Saturday.

“We will defend Spain (…) they will find us against them,” he said yesterday from Valencia in front of Popular Party supporters chanting “Pedro Sanchez in jail” during an amnesty rally. A new rally is being organized for Saturday November 18 by the Spanish right and far right in Madrid.

“Abolition of the rule of law”

Part of the judiciary also criticizes the amnesty in particularly harsh terms.

The Professional Association of Judges, a conservative majority organization among judges, says in a statement that this measure is “the beginning of the end of our democracy and an explosion of the rule of law.”

Conservative members of the General Council of the Judiciary succeeded in convening today an extraordinary meeting of the body in charge of appointing judges on the subject of the amnesty plan. In their statement they denounce that the amnesty of the separatist Catalans constitutes “degeneration to the point of abolishing the rule of law”.

Following the attempted secession of Catalonia in 2017, hundreds of people were prosecuted in Catalonia by the Spanish judiciary, which has been accused by separatists of being the “repression body of the Catalan separatist movement by the Spanish state”.

Leaders of the movement, such as Carles Puigdemont, fled abroad or were imprisoned and subsequently sentenced in 2019 to prison terms of up to 13 years. These convictions caused an explosion of violence in Barcelona.

Pedro Sánchez, who took power less than a year after the secession attempt, largely thanks to separatist votes, has made appeasement in Catalonia one of his administration’s priorities since 2018.

In 2021 he pardoned the nine separatists who had been sentenced to prison, and the following year the ruling majority abolished the offense of standing as part of the reform of the penal code.