JAUME MASDEU, CARMEN DEL RIEGO
BRUSSELS | MADRID 25/05/2021
The President of the Government calls for prioritising constitutional values such as “dialogue and understanding” when the Government studies the measure to pardon imprisoned pro-independence leaders.
In the face of the growing controversy over pardons for pro-independence prisoners, the president of the government, Pedro Sánchez, has wanted to set out the line he is going to follow. It is a question, he says, of acting with harmony, dialogue and understanding to overcome the crisis that has torn Catalan society apart, and above all, to avoid revenge and retaliation.
“The most important thing for me is that despite the fact that there are parties and people who defend other theses, I believe that in constitutional values there is neither revenge nor revenge, but rather harmony, understanding, dialogue, respect for the laws, the constitution and legality, where the government of Spain has always moved,” Sánchez said at the press conference following the Council of the European Union held yesterday and today in Brussels.
Avoiding revenge and retaliation
Sánchez also specified that the time has not yet come to make the decision, that they are waiting for the Supreme Court to issue its mandatory report; but he insisted on his desire for it to be a process that facilitates understanding and harmony, to heal wounds and to look to the future.
He also recalled that in 2017, as leader of the opposition, he supported the government and was in favour of applying article 155, to suspend the autonomy of Catalonia to defend territorial integrity, because “I understood that it was a question of state”.
“We are facing a strategy of absolute blocking of any renewal”.
President of the Government
Now, without pronouncing himself on the final decision he will take on the eleven dossiers he has on the table, he has set out the principles with which he will approach this procedure.
With regard to the Popular Party’s threat that granting the pardons would mean paralysing the reform of the General Council of the Judiciary, he has described it as “an excuse for not fulfilling its constitutional obligations”. “We are facing a strategy of absolute blocking of any renewal”, so as not to recognise that there is a different parliamentary majority, different from Rajoy’s “prehistoric majority” in 2011.
The head of the Executive has stressed that the decision will be taken when appropriate, but has insisted that he is very clear about the principles on which he will base his decision. As the government spokesperson, María Jesús Montero, explained on Tuesday, the central government is waiting for the reports from the Supreme Court and the Public Prosecutor’s Office. “And when we have them, we will take the corresponding decision, within our prerogatives”, she added at the press conference after the Council of Ministers.
“The Government will always look after the general interest of Spain, complying with current legislation”, Montero maintained, who also wanted to separate the debate on pardons from the dialogue between Moncloa and the Generalitat, which she hopes will meet soon: “We must get to work now, because a lot of time has been lost”.
The Minister of Justice, Juan Carlos Campo, has also expressed his opinion on the pardons, who, like Montero, has reminded the Senate that they are awaiting reports from the Supreme Court and the Public Prosecutor’s Office. In any case, he stressed that everything is still to be decided and will be analysed on a case-by-case basis: there may be pardons for all or some, partial pardons, or the requests may be rejected.
Furthermore, and anticipating the political battle announced by the PP over possible pardons, Sánchez recalled the role of the PSOE during the autumn of 2017 in the wake of the independence referendum in Catalonia. “I gave them my support and approval of the 155 that suspended the autonomy of the Generalitat to defend the territorial integrity of the country and because I understood that it was a question of State”, he claimed. “I wish this government had the loyalty that Mariano Rajoy received from the PSOE”, he added.
Pablo Casado announced it last week. The PP would appeal the pardons to the prisoners of the procés if the Government finally granted them without repentance of those affected. Yesterday the party’s secretary general, Teodoro García Egea, reiterated the same idea, and today the party’s spokesperson in Congress, Cuca Gamarra, and the party’s national spokesperson, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, stressed it today. In addition, both Vox and Cs have joined the threat of appeals.
Those in favour of granting pardons are the parliamentary groups that support the government, such as PNV, EH Bildu, Más País and Compromís.
For his part, the new president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, assured that the pardons would be good news: “Any measure that helps to alleviate the pain of political prisoners and their families will be well received, it will be welcome,” he said.