Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez wants assurances from Catalan separatists that they will back key legislation over the next four years in exchange for an amnesty for officials and politicians linked to an illegal independence push.
(Bloomberg) — Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez wants assurances from Catalan separatists that they will back key legislation over the next four years in exchange for an amnesty for officials and politicians linked to an illegal independence push.
The bargain would be part of a broader agreement that would see the Catalan secessionist Junts party back Sanchez’s bid for another term as premier, according to people familiar with the plan. The support of Junts’s seven lawmakers should give Sanchez enough seats for a majority in parliament.
Sanchez’s government is preparing what it calls a stability pact to be presented to Junts, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. As part of the accord, Junts lawmakers would back important pieces of legislation, including annual budgets.
Talks between Sanchez’s Socialists and Junts haven’t formally started yet, but the Catalan group’s leader, Carles Puigdemont, has already said that any support for Sanchez to win a new term will require an amnesty law that would benefit him and hundreds of other activists facing legal complaints for their involvement in the failed 2017 independence declaration.
A spokesperson from the prime minister’s office declined to comment on the plan.
Puigdemont himself has been living in Belgium since 2017 to avoid Spanish courts.
During his previous five years in office, Sanchez never had a stable majority in parliament and relied on a patchwork of smaller parties to pass legislation, with Junts regularly voting against the government. Having the Catalan party’s pledged support would help avoid legislative gridlock.
The deep fragmentation of Spain’s political landscape since the end of the two-party system almost a decade ago has led to bouts of legislative instability with weak minority governments.
While Sanchez is likely to get a shot at an investiture vote in parliament that could give him another term, it could still be weeks away as opposition leader Alberto Nunez Feijoo of the People’s Party will have a first try on Sept. 26 and 27 — but that bid is widely expected to fail. If Feijoo isn’t elected, Sanchez will have two months to try himself.
The Socialists are open to seek ways for an amnesty law, but are worried that if Sanchez wins a new term it could be a turbulent and short one marked by constant clashes with Junts and other separatists, the people said.
Since forming a coalition government with the far-left group Unidas Podemos in early 2020, Sanchez’s administration has approved dozens of bills and decrees. Sanchez’s next coalition government would likely be less active, pushing mostly for legislation needed for the disbursement of European Union recovery funds, according to the people.
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