“We are in a coup”: Amnesty proposal causes fault lines in Spanish politics

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Amnesty proposal

MADRID – The political temperature in Spain is reaching boiling point as the Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) and the Catalan Junts party negotiate a possible amnesty law.

Pedro Sánchez’s government is under pressure to reach an agreement that will pave the way for his reinvestigation. The stumbling block? The scope of the amnesty he is negotiating with the Catalan Junts separatists led by Carles Puigdemont. If no agreement is reached, the issue could lead the country to new elections.

Also read: Sánchez ignores protests against amnesty law

Legal twists and political unrest

While those talks are ongoing, important legal news emerged: the judge of the National Court, Manuel García-Castellón, has agreed to lead the investigation into the actions of Tsunami Democràtic against the former president of the Generalitat Carles Puigdemont, the leader of ERC Marta Rovira and ten more people for an alleged crime of terrorism.

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Heated reactions on the street

Emotions are running high not only in the political arena but also on the streets. The conservative parties PP and VOX emphasise the ‘unconstitutionality’ of the amnesty law and call on their supporters to protest. This culminated on Monday in violent demonstrations in front of the PSOE headquarters. Consequently, even the police had to intervene with rubber bullets and smoke bombs to disperse the crowd. With statements like “We are in a coup, an attack on the constitution,” Santiago Abascal, the leader of VOX, expresses the concerns of many Spaniards.

A divided legal landscape

That same Monday, the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), which had been in office for five years, had convened an extraordinary plenary session to debate a declaration against the measure. “With this statement, the CGPJ expresses its intense concern and desolation about what the proposed amnesty law represents. It represents the erosion, if not the abolition, of the rule of law in Spain. From the moment this law is passed, it will only become a formal proclamation. This will inevitably have consequences at the expense of Spain’s real interests,” said the text, collected by Europa Press.

Manifesto of lawyers for amnesty law

At the other end of the spectrum, more than 200 lawyers have signed a manifesto in support of the amnesty. Former judge Baltasar Garzón was one of them. They see it as an exceptional legal measure to normalise the tense relationship between Catalonia and the rest of Spain after a decade of independence.

Normalizing a conflicting situation as a goal

“The amnesty does not imply the decriminalisation of behaviour, but rather the exceptional application of a legal institution to normalise a conflicting situation. In this case, the normalisation of relations between Catalonia and the rest of the state after the independence tensions of the past decade. Tensions have been reduced in recent years thanks to the efforts of Catalan and Spanish society. These tensions could finally disappear thanks to, among other measures, a possible amnesty,” the text said.

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