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Home » Content » Spanish Congress definitively approves the amnesty law with 177 votes in favor and 172 against
Once published in the BOE, the rule will be in the hands of judges, who have two months to apply it, but who also have the possibility of raising preliminary questions to the European justice system to hinder the process.

Editorial, 30 May 2024

Publication in the Official State Gazette will leave the effects of the rule in the hands of judges

Spanish Parliament has definitively approved this Thursday, May 30, the amnesty law. After five months of processing and a veto by the Senate, the law has obtained 177 votes in favor (PSOE, Sumar, ERC, Junts, Bildu, Podemos, PNV, BNG and the non-attached deputy José Luis Ábalos) and 172 against (PP, Vox, Canarian Coalition and UPN) and has been ready for publication in the Official State Gazette (BOE). Once published in the BOE, the rule will be in the hands of judges, who have two months to apply it, but who also have the possibility of raising preliminary questions to the European justice system to hinder the process.

The approval was made effective after a debate that lasted just under two hours and was followed by a roll-call and standing vote. The forces that support the law have celebrated the law, calling it “historic” and, according to the PSOE, necessary to facilitate a change of cycle in Spanish politics. The Catalan independence movement, on the other hand, has stressed that the amnesty is an essential act of reparation for the “injustices” committed during the “repression” in the independence process.

However, the left of the PSOE and the pro-independence forces have agreed that without democratic regeneration this “victory” falls short, while the PP has called for early elections and Vox has described the vote as the worst attack since 1978, a fact which excludes the coup d’état of Antonio Tejero in 1981.

In the hands of the judges

Once the law is approved and published in the BOE, and as stated in article 4.1 of the law, the judges who have cases related to the independence process would have to dictate “the immediate lifting” of the precautionary measures against those investigated for the independence process, and also the extinction of “all international and state arrest warrants.”

However, judges can also present preliminary questions on this point with the aim of stopping the application of the rule, as recommended by the 126-page anti-amnesty guide that the self-proclaimed Civic Platform for Judicial Independence sent to all judges. through the corporate email of the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) last week.

The application of the rule to hundreds of those prosecuted and convicted in the process (372, according to the Minister of Presidency, Félix Bolaños) depends on the result of these maneuvers. Among these, the former president of the Generalitat Carles Puigdemont, the general secretary of ERC, Marta Rovira, the former councilors Toni Comín and Lluís Puig, as well as the former members of Catalan Parliament Oriol Junqueras, Jordi Turull, Dolors Bassa and Raül Romeva, who will no longer be disqualified.

Seven years of judicialization and five months of processing

This morning’s vote puts an end to a long political journey that dates back to the arrest and exile of those responsible for the independence referendum on October 1, 2017. In fact, one of the first times in which public mention was made of the amnesty was in a plenary session of the Barcelona City Council in November of that same year, when the then councilor of Comuns party Gerardo Pisarello, today a deputy in Congress, proposed it as a way out of the Catalan political situation.

The option of demanding a law like the one that was already approved in the Cortes in 1977 to end Franco’s repression was taking shape during the time when some pro-independence leaders were in prison and the other half in Belgium. So much so, that in the Catalan elections of December 21, 2017, parties such as ERC, the CUP or the Comuns and entities such as Òmnium Cultural already positioned this proposal as a possible solution.

Even so, the path to the approval of the law has been paved with other dejudicialization measures that have served as a testing ground. This is the case of the pardons for those convicted by the Supreme Court on October 1 (2021) or the repeal of the crime of sedition (2022). Both initiatives had the support of the PSOE, which modulated its position regarding the events of 2017 since the arrival of Pedro Sánchez to the Spanish government with a motion of censure that received the support of the independence movement.

Five months of processing

The amnesty was consolidated as a politically viable option after the elections of July 23, 2023. At that time, the results painted an uncertain scenario, where any majority to avoid an electoral repetition or a government with PP and Vox went through a new agreement between the Spanish left and the independence parties. At this point, Junts and ERC increased their commitment to amnesty and raised it as an essential condition for investing the socialist leader.

Once he managed to revalidate himself in the Moncloa, Sánchez activated the gears to approve the law, which was voted for the first time in Congress just a month after the inauguration. From here, the processing began a tortuous path of negotiations and tensions between partners over the scope of the rule that almost derailed it last January. Once the discrepancies were overcome, the law reached the Senate, where the absolute majority of the PP vetoed it, to return it to the lower house which, predictably, will approve it within a few hours.

No demonstrations

Although the amnesty has been accompanied by demonstrations and protests of all kinds for months, its final process will take place in the Congress of Deputies in an apparently calm atmosphere in the streets. In fact, no major rejection action against the norm has been called in Madrid. Nor has the PSOE headquarters on Ferraz Street, the epicenter of ultra concentrations during the first weeks of processing, had any incidents in recent days.

In fact, the last rally against the amnesty was held by the PP this Sunday at the Puerta de Alcalá in Madrid. The party claimed that 80,000 people attended, a figure that the government delegation reduced to 20,000 protesters.



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