Editorial, 31 January 2024
The parliamentary processing of the Amnesty Law was expected to be tortuous and, in view of what has been seen, the forecasts were not misguided. Agents of different profiles, sometimes political, sometimes judicial, seem to be working hard to make it happen. Yesterday’s session in Congress was no exception. True to its habit, Junts kept the House on tenterhooks until the last vote, in which it finally decided to reject the articles of the law, agreed last week with the PSOE and ERC. The vote, taken after Junts and ERC’s amendments were rejected by a majority, ended with 171 votes in favour and 179 against. Junts and PSOE failed to reach agreements and a good opportunity was lost.
The argument of Junts, one of the formations most interested in the approval of this law -if not the most-, to vote as it did is related to the latest actions of the judges Manuel García-Castellón or Joaquín Aguirre, which, according to Puigdemont’s supporters, reduce the guarantees so that all the people involved in cases associated with the procés are shielded from any legal action. The result of yesterday’s vote does not overturn the law that Junts demanded in order to support the investiture of Pedro Sánchez, but it does slow it down, as it entails a setback in its processing and a delay in its approval. The setback is due to the fact that the text of the law will have to be returned to the Justice Committee of the Congress, where it was already modified last Wednesday, in search of a new consensus, before being sent to the Senate. The delay is due to the fact that this new setback will delay the planned timetable and perhaps push the approval of the Amnesty Law to May.
Puigdemont’s supporters put the brakes on the law they demanded in order to give the green light to the investiture.
In general terms, both the PSOE’s and the PP’s positions have remained the same throughout this already cumbersome process. The Socialists insist on their theory that the Amnesty Law is a key instrument for normalising the Catalan political scene. The conservatives, in describing its effects on the state as humiliating and in redoubling their criticism of the governing party. ERC, meanwhile, maintains a policy of sustained support for the resolution of the conflict.
But both Junts and some judges, including the aforementioned, are taking actions that hinder the process of normalisation in Catalonia, jeopardise it, feed off each other, and contribute, hopefully not irreversibly, to eroding their own image and casting shadows on their idea of the collective good.
Junts remains obstinate in its policy of maximums, in its all-encompassing demands, forgetting that the government’s action, like that of any political agent, has its limits, and that the best can be the enemy of the good. The failure of the operation to which the PSOE has already committed itself so much would not be good for the Spanish political scene, and even less so for Junts’ interests.
On the other hand, the orders of García-Castellón and Aguirre (who has given an unusual interview to German television in favour of his thesis despite the fact that the case is still open) have reached such a degree of synchronisation with the calendar of crucial parliamentary sessions for the progress of the Amnesty law – which they precede and condition – that it is already difficult to be surprised by the PSOE’s denunciations of the alleged judicial intrusion in political activity. The spokeswoman for the Socialist federal executive committee showed restraint on Monday, expressing the usual respect for the work of the judiciary. But sources within the party expressed, at the same time, their conviction that such judicial decisions have a purpose: to obstruct the Amnesty law.
We said here last Thursday that getting this law through is no easy task and that complicating it could have undesirable effects. Yesterday we had new evidence of this.