Spanien: amnesty for separatists?

The coalition negotiations between Spanish caretaker prime minister Pedro Sánchez’s Socialist Party (PSOE) and the Catalan independence parties ERC and Junts per Catalunya appear to be nearing the finishing line after they reportedly agreed on an amnesty law and debt reduction for Catalonia at the weekend. The left-wing alliance Sumar is already on board. The amnesty, in particular, is a controversial point among commentators.

La Vanguardia (ES) /

A good basis for the future

La Vanguardia is delighted:

“The amnesty law, which will no doubt be presented to Congress on Monday, and the content of the pact between PSOE and Junts are a good basis for forgetting the past and trying to build a future of mutual respect. The constitution will be strengthened by the agreement, but at the same time the independence supporters will not renounce their ambitions. If anyone has a better proposal, let them come forward. The serious problems that prevented an agreement last Thursday appear to have been resolved on Saturday. ... This being the case, the inauguration could take place as early as next week.”

Jordi Juan
El País (ES) /

Considerable damage to the rule of law

The constitutional lawyer Ana Carmona Contreras criticises the planned amnesty law in El País:

“An operation like this should not only rely on political approval not only in the political sphere, but also in society. ... Only then would the desired goal — the survival of the constitution and the resolution of a conflict — be legitimised. ... The current operation does not fulfil these requirements. Another major stumbling block is the independence movement’s unwillingness to accept the constitutional framework for its demands. ... Even if such a law were passed, it would only have the majority that supports Pedro Sánchez. ... This would cause considerable damage to the rule of law and considerably undermine the democratic system guaranteed by the constitution.”

Ana Carmona Contreras
Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

U-turn dividing the country

Sánchez is playing a dangerous game, notes Patrick Illinger, Spain correspondent for the Süddeutsche Zeitung:

“In addition to money and the amnesty, this is also costing Sánchez trust. Before the election in July he was an avowed opponent of granting Carles Puigdemont and his fellow campaigners amnesty. Now his U-turn is dividing the country to an alarming degree. Conservative media talk of corruption while political opponents are calling it a ‘coup d’état’. The judiciary has announced it will put up resistance. ... There is no doubt that the Catalonia issue must be resolved, but not with a unilateral declaration of independence as in 2017, nor with the kind of horse-trading that Sánchez is now engaging in.”

Patrick Illinger