Spain approves bill granting amnesty to Catalan separatists | Politics News

The pardon act ends political turmoil sparked by the separatist push, but could face more legal hurdles.

The Spanish parliament has given the green light to a bill granting amnesty to hundreds of Catalan separatists involved in a failed separatist attempt seven years ago.

The controversial bill, passed 177 to 172 on Thursday, will allow courts to overturn the criminal records of hundreds of officials and activists involved in crimes linked to Catalonia’s separatist push since 2011, paving the way for the exiled leader’s return. of the movement, Carles Puigdemont.

The pardon act ends Spain’s worst political crisis in decades, in which Catalan independence leaders, who had won the 2015 regional elections in Catalonia, held a full referendum in 2017 that was declared illegal by the constitutional court of Spain.

The bill, opposed by the conservative Popular Party (PP) and the far-right Vox, has had a difficult passage in parliament.

Initially approved by the lower house in March, it was vetoed in the upper house, where right-wing parties have a majority, earlier this month. But the House pushed it anyway.

Although it has already been approved, it is likely to face legal challenges.

Earlier this week, a PP spokesperson said the party would do everything possible to “annul” the law, either through appeals to the Constitutional Court or through “social pressure” on the street.

The law must also be applied by courts on a case-by-case basis, and individual judges must decide whether the amnesty applies.

They have two months to raise issues with the Constitutional Court or the European justice system, which could delay its implementation for some time.

‘Sorry’

“Forgiveness is stronger than resentment,” said the President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, after the approval of the bill.

Sánchez had presented the amnesty proposal in exchange for support in parliament from Catalan separatist parties, which would allow him to remain prime minister after an inconclusive election last year.

The new law paves the way for the return of independence leader Puigdemont, leader of Junts per Catalunya (JxCat), one of the parties that had backed Sánchez’s coalition government.

Puigdemont led the 2017 secession campaign before fleeing the country and going into self-exile in Belgium, where he has resided since while evading extradition. Other independence leaders are also in exile.

Spaniards are divided over the amnesty, as the bill has sparked large protests in recent months.

In a poll conducted by the newspaper El Mundo in March, 62 percent of respondents across Spain rejected the amnesty, but only in the Catalonia region did a majority of voters (48 percent) support it.

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