Iván Redondo, 11 September 2023
Carles Puigdemont OLIVIER MATTHYS / EFE
The policy of “concord” made the amnesty possible. It achieved its main political objective in the 1970s: to allow a meeting place between the Spains that had been torn apart for centuries and to build democracy by bringing the heirs of the civil conflict closer together. Those children of the victors and the vanquished. But there were long moments of tug of war. The kind of moments that only time will eventually prove right and which are regrettable because of the ineffectiveness of reason and the great waste of time. Shameful hairs on the cat’s back, such as the pardoning of Franco’s crimes, which was never debated. The only discussion was about which democrats deserved amnesty or not. And it reached practically everyone except the courageous Unión Militar Democrática (UMD), military men who had been expelled from the army for conspiring to bring about democracy. Those imprisoned were released, but not reinstated. They went from the muses to the theatre.
Their exclusion from the first amnesty of 1976 had the effect of keeping this question open until the 1977 amnesty, where the same problem was again encountered, only solved ten years later. “Today it doesn’t fit, we’ll see later”, they were told. And they had even legalised the PCE. In this and other respects, the protagonists of that time took Lenin’s category of objective possibility for granted. It is therefore advisable, as we often recall in this war room, not to sacralise so much the transition, exemplary though incomplete, nor the amnesty of ’77. This is how democracy began. Without paying tribute to the military democrats. To those who tried the most difficult thing: to promote a democratic army and a democratic society. A great Carme Chacón did it 33 years later. With recognition from Congress, the Military Cross and a declaration from the Council of Ministers.
In the pacts of state in Spain, there is room for everyone, including, of course, the nationalists.
The amnesty, therefore, needs its gestation time in order not to make mistakes (not two months). The legislator must specify its legal regime in order for it to be constitutional. It must also conceptualise very well what the oblivion consists of and its scope, what the facts were, when and which subjects it affects. Making it very clear that it is not a question of justice, but of political will. It is Spanish society, represented by national sovereignty, which is the Congress of Deputies, which freely decides to open a new period in which the mistakes of the past will not be repeated.
The amnesty, more than a legal figure, is also politically the ultimate exercise in magnanimity. The one with the greatest political impact. For all these reasons, there can be no shadow to hide it. Amnesty must be called amnesty. And it is essential that it guarantees the non-recidivism of the ‘procés’ . On these bases, the amnesty is not only legal, but politically it is a pact of state with a constitutional fit. This makes it easier to explain, because Spain’s pacts of state include everyone, including, of course, the nationalists. It is not amnesty for investiture, but amnesty for reunion.
This is the framework and no other: pact of State. Amnesty will make Spain a much stronger democracy. It does not humiliate the generation of the transition, it remembers it; because the strong are stronger when they seek “concord”. “State Pact” and “constitutional fit”, said Alberto Núñez Feijóo last week, acknowledging that there is a political problem in Catalonia. He was loosening pressure so as not to be left behind in the new electoral cycle that is beginning. Nothing to do with the PP of 2017. With those words, perhaps there would have been neither 155 nor DUI. It was 27 October. Write that date down again. The amnesty needs “pontiffs”, true “bridge builders” in the best literal sense of the word, and there are plenty of those who blow them up. The PP also needs bridges to be built.
It is not a question of justice, but of political will. It is Spanish society, represented by national sovereignty, which is the Congress of Deputies, that freely decides to open a new period.
Today, a long weekend in Catalonia, like every 11 September, marks the 50th anniversary of the farewell of Salvador Allende’s presidential political poetry, with which he opened the great avenues. Politics are symbols that, like history, do not repeat themselves but rhyme. Symbols such as when, just 15 days before the approval of the 1977 amnesty, a royal decree law gave the green light to the provisional re-establishment of the Generalitat de Catalunya. Yes, so it was, first it was the Government, figuratively speaking. It was not amnesty for “investiture”.
Trompe l’oeil” Investiture
A trompe l’oeil is a “trap before the eye”, an optical illusion. In his search for support for the investiture (“I’m only four votes away”), Feijóo is clearing the way for Pedro Sánchez. He cannot be president because Sánchez would have to support him, whom he wanted to repeal. But the “trompe l’oeil” also serves daily to show that there is a territorial problem in Spain, called plurinationality, which must be confronted (even the PP ends up talking about it).So the PSOE is the only one that can articulate any agreement, because it can talk to everyone, except Vox. And we return to the 23-J mandate.
The hawk’s eye
The false dilemma: Junts or elections
The political equation of Junts per Catalunya or elections is false. If the vote is held again on 14 January 2024, on the 15th – make no mistake – there will be no amnesty. Clarity on this point may help these weeks. The amnesty slot is today, here and now. New elections would have two direct effects: 1) either a PP+Vox government or 2) a grand coalition executive or grand cohabitation. The arithmetic is what it is. And no one should be fooled: a repeat election will make the amnesty impossible and weaken the plurinational majority.