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The Spanish Parliament rejects the controversial amnesty law

The Spanish Parliament rejects the controversial amnesty law

The law will now return to a parliamentary committee and could be changed again there. However, the rejection of the draft shows the extreme weakness of the government of Social Democrat Pedro Sánchez, which relies on Puigdemont's Junts party for its majority. Sanchez formed a government in November with the help of Catalan independence supporters led by Puigdemont. In exchange for their support, Sánchez promised to pardon independence activists.

Justice Minister Felix Bolaños called it “incomprehensible” that Junts' party would vote against a law he helped negotiate. He called on the Catalan party to “rethink its position” instead of voting with right-wing conservatives “whom they want to imprison and ban.”

The Junts party unexpectedly presented new proposed changes to the bill on Tuesday morning and urged Sánchez's Socialists to approve them. However, they rejected further changes, so Junts' representatives ultimately voted against the law. 171 representatives voted in favor of the project, five fewer than the number required for its approval. Gantz had called for the law to be explicitly applied to anyone accused of “terrorism” or “treason.” Puigdemont faces charges related to such allegations in two investigations.

Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez promised amnesty and other concessions to the Catalans in order to secure the votes of the separatist parties Junts and ERC for re-election to the Madrid parliament in mid-November.

The Justice Committee is expected to deal with the project again for several weeks. The House of Commons must then vote on a new version. If the “Law on Institutional, Political and Social Normalization in Catalonia” succeeds in removing this obstacle, the Senate will have to deal with it. The conservative People's Party, led by opposition leader Alberto Nunez Viejo, has a majority of seats there. In addition to the People's and Gonz parties, the far-right populist Vox party also rejected the bill in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

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The background to the controversial amnesty law is the failed attempts to secede from Catalonia from Spain in 2017. The amnesty aims to benefit hundreds of activists who were persecuted by the Spanish justice system after the failed secession. It is possible that Puigdemont will then return to Spain after years in exile.

Miriam Nogueras, a politician in Gantz's party, said the pardon should be “complete” and should leave no one behind, no one, justifying the measure during the discussion in parliament. The background to Gonz's concerns are the actions of the two judges who announced on Monday that their investigations would continue for another six months.

The planned amnesty law raises great controversy in Spain and sparks violent protests. The People's Party and the far-right Vox Party accuse the Social Democratic Party of breaking the law and maintaining power at all costs. On Sunday, 45,000 opponents of the amnesty law took to the streets in downtown Madrid. Figo said that this resistance will save Spain's endangered democracy. The project is a “disgrace” on the country.

Both the Liberal Council, led by separatist leader Carles Puigdemont, who has been living in exile in Belgium since a failed secession attempt in the fall of 2017, and the left-wing European Reform Party, led by regional president Pere Aragonés, aim for Catalonia to secede from Spain. But Sanchez wants to prevent this and defuse the conflict through dialogue and concessions.

Two judges are currently investigating Puigdemont and other separatists in Spain on terrorism charges. Those affected risk being excluded from the amnesty if the current version of the draft is not changed. This would inevitably jeopardize the stability of the leftist government.

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