There is no risk of breakage. In the PSOE and in Junts they rule out that the negotiating teams have planned the hypothesis that the agreement on which they have been working for three months could derail. The scenario of an electoral repetition, therefore, is still remote. However, since last Wednesday that negotiation has gone through its most complicated hours. After the defense of the amnesty law by Pedro Sánchez and the photo of the number 3 of the party with Carles Puigdemont, in the PSOE they came to glimpse an imminent investiture. The socialists now assume that the pending obstacles are few but deep and that Puigdemont, who does not share his haste, is determined to mark the times until the end.
All sources agree that the bulk of the text of the amnesty law has been agreed upon for weeks. And that is why Sánchez agreed to publicly defend the measure before the Federal Committee of his party and to have his organizational secretary photographed next to the former president of the Generalitat, a taboo image until now. Neither of these two steps, they say in Ferraz, would have been taken if there were not the minimum guarantees of agreement. Several of the negotiators estimate, in fact, at “95%” what has already been agreed and point out that the clash is limited to “a single paragraph.” But a crucial paragraph for both parties and on which the number two from Junts, Jordi Turull, gives a clue this Friday.
“There are many people here who have taken the risk, who have not given up. We will not leave any soldier stranded,” said the general secretary of the Catalan independentists in a message sent to the leadership of his party, but that he had more recipients. Turull’s words, in fact, refer to the core of the disagreement with the PSOE at this point in the negotiation: the paragraph of the articles of the law that describes the extent to which the amnesty covers and what cases would be excluded from it.
Hence, the former Catalan minister, one of the pro-independence leaders pardoned after more than three years in prison, added in that message: “We will not make an amnesty for VIPs”, in reference to the text agreed between the PSOE and ERC, of which he makes a disqualification evening. Turull, in that message, also rules out that the negotiation is on the verge of an imminent agreement. “Hours and days of great pressure are coming,” he warns. This message for the PSOE: Junts does not share their haste.
The negotiating teams of the PSOE and Junts, with Santos Cerdán traveling to Brussels to talk personally with the Catalan independentists, are working to agree on the exact scope of the amnesty. And this is when the Voloh case arose, in which Josep Lluís Alay, head of Puigdemont’s office, is being investigated, who is accused of an alleged crime of revealing secrets.
The Voloh case was a spectacular operation that in October 2020 led to dozens of searches and arrests of several men in the engine room of the process, but which over the years has come to almost nothing. The judge ended up shelving the branch of the case that investigated an alleged Russian plot of the process. Two pieces related to an alleged urban planning blow by former ERC councilor Xavier Vendrell and a conversation between Alay and a police officer are still open. Junts believes that the amnesty must undoubtedly reach this cause and all those who have collaborated in tasks of accompaniment or protection of those granted amnesty.
On both sides of the negotiation they flatly deny some published information that refers to the fact that in the conversations about the amnesty specific names of politicians or collaborators to whom it could be applied have been addressed. These sources assure that they are talking about casuistries, and that the discussions are now at a high level of technical complexity in which the jurists of the PSOE and Junts intervene directly.
The socialists, meanwhile, continue to conspire not to issue any information that could ruin a very delicate negotiation. Careful in maintaining discretion, at this point they reduce the significance of the date and remember that the important thing is that there is a government before November 27, the legal limit for the dissolution of the Cortes. On the other hand, they have not yet ruled out that the investiture could take place next week, before Sánchez appears on Saturday at the meeting that the European socialists have in Malaga.
Because, as soon as the text is agreed with Junts, something that no one expects to happen before the beginning of next week, the next steps will happen automatically. First, the registration of the bill in Congress, which could even be electronic. And then, the announcement by the president of the Lower House of the call for the plenary session. Although it is usual for this announcement to be made with a margin of at least 48 hours, there are precedents for investiture calls with only 24 hours’ notice, such as the case of Ana Pastor with Mariano Rajoy.
Those around Pedro Sánchez remain optimistic that the negotiations will end up reaching a successful conclusion and believe that, after closing the agreement with ERC, Junts now also claims its nuclear role in the investiture. In fact, the Socialists have detected some discomfort among their interlocutors from Puigdemont’s party regarding the staging and some of the points agreed upon with the Republicans.
In the midst of a frontal political battle between both pro-independence formations, which in practice do not maintain any type of mutual dialogue, Junts consider that those of Oriol Junqueras have appropriated some achievements that, in their opinion, bear their stamp. Such is the case of the figure of the verifier between parties agreed with the PSOE, or that the amnesty may end up including the majority of those prosecuted for their participation in the so-called CDR.
Despite all the complications, neither the Socialists nor those of Puigdemont believe that there is any reason for discussion that is insurmountable at this point. Although they agree on both sides of the table that there is still some sweat to be done before closing the historic agreement they have in their hands.