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Home » Content » The heavy socialist digestion of the amnesty in Spain
The PSC's electoral prospects in Catalonia are good, but they are not enough to govern alone, and in the party's engine room they are aware that the amnesty is a sore point among their electorate.

Luis B. García, Barcelona, 23 November 2023

Demonstration against the amnesty in the vicinity of the Congress of Deputies.

 Sergio Pérez / EFE

The reluctant PSC and PSOE voters will not assimilate the measure of grace with the same speed.

“The new legislature cannot be based on Catalonia”. A senior PSC leader pointed out, shortly before the investiture of Pedro Sánchez, the political direction that the new progressive coalition government should take. After the pardons, the reform of the Penal Code and the amnesty, which will still be talked about for many months, the Socialists need time for their electorate to digest the concession to independence and to recover from an electoral cost, already calculated, which they consider “assumable” if everything goes as it did with the pardons.

“If it works, people will end up understanding it”, predicts a former minister who is not repeating, but who is “very convinced” that the amnesty will allow the Socialists to appear as “the solution”. Although he also admits that the measure will not be digested in the same way in Catalonia as in the rest of Spain, “as happened with the pardons”, he recalls.

The PSC’s electoral prospects in Catalonia are good, but they are not enough to govern alone, and in the party’s engine room they are aware that the amnesty is a sore point among their electorate. This is reflected in the latest barometer of the CEO, the Catalan CIS, which shows that only 49% of PSC voters are in favour of this measure and 41% against it. Even so, the survey gives Salvador Illa’s party its best electoral forecast to date, up to 45 seats, a “fictitious picture”, they warn, but which shows that digestion may be lighter among the Catalan electorate.

The new government will have to “redirect the debate towards public policies and not so much towards the territorial question”.

Thanks to the PSC’s result on 23-J, Sánchez is now president and could re-edit the coalition government, but the CIS already places the PP clearly ahead, which is why the new government will have to make an effort to “reorient the debate towards public policies and not so much towards the territorial question”, agrees another socialist source.

“The PSC electorate does not like the conflict, and the response will be good, but the PSOE has a more serious problem” because of the judicial and right-wing noise. “It will cost more, but the facts will prevail,” they predict in the PSC.

Illa’s party feels strengthened by its successes at the polls, by the decline of the pro-independence movement, and by appearing to the electorate as the best qualified to resolve economic problems, security, poverty and inequality, and relations between Catalonia and Spain. To achieve the same, Sánchez’s new government will try to project its own agenda, based on “employment, the social shield, reforms…”, although “there are issues that you are going to have even if you don’t want them”, they admit, and they will have a Catalan background.

For Illa’s party, the pact with Junts sets the terms for Puigdemont’s “political defeat”.

“In a few months it will be impossible” for the PSOE to recover from the cost of the measure, “but in the medium term”, they say. They even predict that the opinion of the judiciary will be modulated, “aware that society does not have a high opinion of the Spanish justice system either”.

The amnesty fulfilled a double goal for the Socialists. “Although this tears us up inside”, acknowledges another source, there was no other way to the investiture. Moreover, Sánchez’s interest in “playing politics” with Junts, as with ERC, goes back a long way, and has served to keep the PP in the corner of thinking with Vox. The PSOE will have a prosperous legislature if it forges the concrete with which it has erected the motley wall against the right, although governability will not be a bed of roses. “Until the PP does not separate itself from Vox, it will not govern”, warns the aforementioned former socialist minister.

And in Catalonia, with the amnesty, Illa considers his mission to break the pro-Catalan blocs by means of the pact to be over, something he has been successfully cultivating in Parliament and in local corporations since he won the Catalan elections in 2021. “Turning the page” was just that: putting the ‘procès’ in front of the mirror and anointing it with a pardon to return the pro-independence leaders, including Puigdemont, to politics.

But if the mission entails risks, explaining it is also a problem. The PSC finds itself in a bind when it comes to clearly justifying the reason for the amnesty without provoking the wrath of Junts. Sánchez tried to do so in the investiture debate by raising the “pardon” issue, and for a few hours he jeopardised the success of the vote.

“We are agreeing on the conditions for an unmitigated political defeat”, summarised a PSC leader to the general media in Brussels, when the amnesty was still being negotiated. Journalists disputed the aphorism, upset that Puigdemont could “return to Spain as a hero” and without being brought to justice. The socialist leader replied that, politically, the former president “has achieved nothing” since he went to Waterloo, and that “you don’t amnesty a winner”, although without his political rehabilitation it would be impossible to turn the page once and for all. The other major journalistic concern revolved around the pro-independence stubbornness for unilateralism, to which the leader resolved: “It doesn’t matter so much that they say they will do it again, as that they cannot do it again, even if the conditions for doing it again are met”. It is therefore a question of “making it impossible to go down that road”.

“The PSC electorate does not like conflict, and the response will be good, but the PSOE has a more serious problem”.

And that is where Illa’s role comes in with his plan to win the presidency of the Generalitat. His “forceful but constructive” opposition is bearing fruit with the inestimable help of Moncloa. Illa is squeezing the government but not suffocating it, and even less so now. The amnesty must be digested.

https://www.lavanguardia.com/politica/20231126/9406677/pesada-digestion-socialista-amnistia.html

OpenKat

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