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In Spain, Pedro Sanchez’s pact with the Catalan separatists

Once again, Pedro Sanchez won his bet, perhaps the riskiest of all, and the most controversial too. Thursday, November 16, the socialist was re-elected to the presidency of the Spanish government by obtaining the votes of 179 deputies (socialists, radical left, Catalan separatists, nationalists and Basque separatists, etc.) against 171 (the conservatives of the Popular Party, PP, and the elected from the far-right party Vox), the majority being 176. While he was given the loser before the legislative elections of July 23, he confirmed his resistance at the head of an executive combining the socialists and the radical left, which he has led since 2018.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers In Spain, Pedro Sanchez obtains the support of Catalan separatists at the cost of concessions which ignite the country

Mr. Sanchez won Thursday’s vote at the cost of agreements negotiated over three months and in secret with the Catalan independence parties, whose deputies were essential to his inauguration. A clause in these agreements deeply divides the electorate, including socialists. This is an amnesty, a sine qua non condition posed by the independence party Junts to allow it to reach an absolute majority thanks to the vote of its seven deputies.

For some, Mr. Sanchez demonstrated political courage by accepting this amnesty, the principle of which he nevertheless refused before the elections. The bill would erase crimes committed between 2012 and 2023 in the context of the organization, by Catalan independence activists, of the referendums of 2014 and 2017. Its vote would allow Carles Puigdemont, the former president of the Catalan regional government, to return to Spain without being imprisoned. In charge in Barcelona during the secession attempt in October 2017, prosecuted for disobedience and embezzlement of public funds by the Spanish justice system, he took refuge in Belgium to escape. He himself negotiated, in Brussels, the terms of the agreement between his party, Junts, and the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE).

Read also (August 2023): Article reserved for our subscribers Carles Puigdemont, the Catalan exile who holds the key to the Spanish government

For others, Pedro Sanchez, 51, has demonstrated that he is willing to trade the equality of Spaniards before the law, even the unity of the kingdom, for his reappointment to power. Beyond the opposition, several associations of magistrates and state civil servants have expressed their fears of an attack on the separation of powers. The amnesty is also criticized by figures on the left, such as the writer Javier Cercas and the former socialist governor Felipe Gonzalez, and it is rejected by 40% of socialist voters, according to polls.

“Healing the divide”

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