Junts’ rejection of the amnesty law last Tuesday in Congress has stressed part of the investiture bloc. After several months of negotiations, Carles Puigdemont’s party decided to vote against a wording that had the agreement of the rest of the partners. Both the PSOE, Sumar and Esquerra Republicana have since reproached the post-convergents for a decision that endangers the text itself and compromises the stability of the legislature.
“Incomprehensible,” the Minister of Justice, Félix Bolaños, said this Wednesday about the Junts movement. In an interview on Cadena Ser, the socialist leader, one of the main negotiators of the law, regretted that those seven deputies were placed on Tuesday in the same position as PP or Vox. “If we have achieved this brave, restorative and constitutional amnesty law, my goal is for it to come out of Congress like this,” said the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, this Thursday.
The law, after Junts’ ‘no’, now has to return to the Justice Commission. They are two steps backwards in its processing that force the Government to sit down again at the table with all the groups for a new consensus text. At the core of the dispute remains the ambition of Puigdemont’s party to include all terrorist crimes in the amnesty, to prevent decisions by judges such as Manuel García Castellón from jeopardizing the text’s reach to all those involved in the process, starting with the former president himself.
The PSOE is determined to maintain its position and believes that the one who loses, if the amnesty does not finally come out, is Junts. But it is not only the socialists who believe that the amnesty should be approved as it is and transfer the pressure onto the backs of their interlocutors. Esquerra Republicana verbalized its criticisms that same Tuesday from the rostrum. “This is not about Puigdemont or [Marta] Rovira,” said deputy Pilar Vallugera, who asked not to fall into the trap of writing a law “thinking about the judges.”
After all, all the groups except Junts voted for the amnesty law. Already in the process of the presentation, the post-convergents were the only ones who distanced themselves from the investiture block (not counting the Canarian Coalition) and refused to sign the text that later went to the commission. The president of ERC, Oriol Junqueras, spoke after the plenary session before the media and defended that the law as it had been presented was a good law, perhaps not what his party wanted but a solid text that could pass the parliamentary process and have legal reserve both in Spain and in Europe. Government sources insist that this law has to be approved no matter what and criticize Junts for not thinking about all the “retaliators” who would be freed from lawsuits if they were forgotten. “They abuse tactics,” these sources criticize. Inform Arturo Puente.
It is the same position that Sumar has maintained during this time, which this Thursday spoiled Junts’ attitude. “The amnesty law has to come out. To those who want it but voted ‘no’ I would ask: what alternative do you have? Clearly they don’t have it. Responsibility, pragmatism and a long view have to prevail,” said the spokesperson for the parliamentary group, Íñigo Errejón, in an interview on TVE. “We are going to roll up our sleeves for an agreement but that requires an exercise of responsibility,” he concluded.
The truth is that Sumar, who beyond Errejón’s statements has maintained a certain distance in recent weeks from the struggle between the PSOE and Junts, supported in Tuesday’s vote the amendments of the group led in Congress by Míriam Nogueras. Also the one that they negotiated with the PNV to touch article 2, the one that talks about exceptions, and delete mentions of terrorism. Many of these amendments had in fact the only support of the seven Junts deputies, the five from the PNV and the 27 from Yolanda Díaz’s coalition.
In the last few hours, the former deputy of Unidas Podemos and current leader of the comuns Jaume Asens, one of the people from Sumar who interact with Puigdemont’s entourage, proposed an alternative route that involves approving the amnesty law as it is and later modify the definition of terrorism in the Penal Code. “It is defined in a way in the Spanish Penal Code that is very diffuse, which allows for many interpretations,” she said in an interview on TV3.
Both the Basque Nationalist Party and EH Bildu have preferred to maintain, at least publicly, an intermediate position. The jeltzale formation has maintained a constant dialogue with Junts, hence it was that party that allowed amendment 29 to reach the plenary session alive, which contemplates including terrorism within the scope of the law. But the party does not want to apportion blame or take a clear position on whether the text is fine as it is or should be approved with the changes requested by the Catalan independentists.
“We want there to be an amnesty law and that is why we have voted in favor in the presentation, commission and plenary session, but it is not up to us to express whether we see it well or not,” maintain sources from the parliamentary group. “It is the parties involved in the drafting that have to agree on the text that they believe is most convenient,” they add. One of its deputies in Congress, Mikel Legarda, was a little more explicit this Wednesday on Radio Euskadi: “We voted for it because we consider that perhaps in some aspect it could be improved, but that the alternative is not ‘the better the worse’, and finally I understand that some way out will be sought, and normally these ways out in these situations tend to be semantic rather than substantive,” he stated.
The Lehendakari, Iñigo Urkullu, has been a little harsher, not forgetting the conversation he had with Carles Puigdemont in 2017, before he changed his mind at the last minute to unilaterally declare independence. This Wednesday, in statements to the media, he disfigured Junts’ “change of opinion” on a law that he, he recalled, “saw well” weeks ago.
The Basque independentists maintain a similar position. At EH Bildu they have been somewhat more forceful in favor of the text being approved on Wednesday. “We must protect everyone who can benefit from this law. We know that it is not possible to do it 100% because there can always be prevaricating judges sticking their nose in and making decisions. We hope to pass this law. There will be stones on the road. We cannot give the staunch enemies of this law opportunities or victories,” said Abertzale deputy Jon Iñarritu in the plenary session on Tuesday.
“We would have liked the law to be approved,” say sources from the parliamentary group, who ask for responsibility and high-mindedness “from both parties.” “We believe that we can give one more opportunity to those who, by land, sea and air, are trying to sabotage and boycott the amnesty law so that it derails this legislature,” they say, while asking “not to accept that there are powers of the State that mark the move to politics.”