Parliament: Amnesty for Catalan separatists approved

Parliament: Amnesty for Catalan separatists approved

The conflict over the Catalan separatists has been simmering in Spain for many years. With an action that is as daring as it is criticized, the left-wing government in Madrid wants to finally bring about peace.

The Spanish parliament has passed a controversial amnesty for Catalan separatists. The “Law for the Institutional, Political and Social Normalization in Catalonia” was finally approved on Thursday in the lower house in Madrid with 177 votes to 172. With publication in the Official Journal, the rules will come into force in the next few days. The adoption was preceded by heated debates and several votes in both houses of parliament since the end of last year.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez had promised the “Catalanistas” the amnesty and other concessions in order to secure the votes of two separatist parties for his re-election in November. The liberal Junts of separatist leader Carles Puigdemont and the left-wing ERC both continue to strive for Catalonia to secede from Spain. Sánchez, however, wants to prevent this and defuse the conflict through dialogue.

The result of the parliamentary elections on May 12 in Catalonia was seen as a success of the appeasement policy. For the first time since 1980, the various pro-independence parties in the conflict region lost their absolute majority in the vote. The Socialists of Sánchez and leading candidate Salvador Illa, on the other hand, received the most votes and also the most seats in the parliament in Barcelona for the first time.

Much discontent with amnesty plans

The amnesty plans have sparked a lot of resentment in the EU’s fourth-largest economy in recent months. There were protests with thousands of participants. Opposition leader Alberto Núñez Feijoó of the conservative People’s Party PP described the measure as a “national disgrace” and an “international embarrassment”. He accused Sánchez of political “corruption” because he had “bought” his re-election with the amnesty.

The amnesty applies to everyone who has come into conflict with the law in connection with the independence movement since 2012. Only a few crimes, such as terrorism, are excluded. Among the 400 or so beneficiaries is Puigdemont, under whose aegis Catalonia was plunged into chaos after an illegal independence referendum and a decision to secede from Spain in autumn 2017. The then conservative central government placed the region under compulsory administration. Puigdemont was able to flee with some of his comrades and has been living in exile in Belgium ever since, but could now return soon.

Several separatists who remained in the country were sentenced to prison terms of up to 13 years, but have since been pardoned. The region is still suffering from the consequences of the attempted separation – political instability and a flight of companies and capital.

Source: Stern

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