The surprise has come. When everything seemed to indicate that the acting president of the Government, Pedro Sanchezhe was only going to defend before the Federal Committee of the PSOE this Saturday the agreement with Sumarthings have taken a 360 degree turn and, halfway through his intervention, he has justified the need to apply an amnesty in Catalonia.
Yes, for the first time, and quite clearly, the leader of the Executive has highlighted to his people the need to apply it “in defense of coexistence between Spaniards“, because “it will definitely contribute to political normalization in Catalonia.”
“In the streets of all of Spain, if there is a unanimous desire, it is to live together, to work together, to leave behind useless quarrels. This is the moment“, he pointed out.
In this way, Sánchez has agreed to the requests made by some of the nationalist parties in Congress, such as ERC or Junts, to support his investiture, although he has recognized that “will be fully constitutional“.
But, at this point, many questions now arise about how the amnesty is applied and how it differs from other grace measures, such as the pardons that the central Executive has already implemented.
What is amnesty?
Amnesty is a word that has been on everyone’s lips, since the ERC spokesperson in Congress, Gabriel Rufián, pronounced it after seeing that the general elections had left a favorable scenario for said measure.
It has many details similar to those of a pardon, because it is also a measure of grace that serves to exempt one from a penalty. But there is a key between the two, while pardon serves to forgive the punishment of those who have been convicted, amnesty forgives the crime without the need for punishment.
How can it be applied?
You don’t have to travel far in time to see some political proposal in which they defend applying an amnesty. In March of this same year, ERC, Junts, the CUP and PdeCat jointly presented a proposed amnesty law.
A rule with which they sought the goal that they could now achieve, benefiting all those prosecuted and convicted by the self-determination referendum of October 1, 2017.
PP, Voy, PSOE and Unidas Podemos refused to process the regulations, through a report by Congressional lawyers who did not advise it because “it would enter into a clear and obvious contradiction” with article 62 of the Constitution, which prevents authorizing general pardons. Something that some magistrates deny, because they consider that both are included in said article.
After seeing Sánchez’s defense this Saturday to move forward with said law, the Congressional Board is key in said proposal and its control depends on the left. Something that would be enough for it to start processing in the Lower House, until the grace measure can be applied.
Has there been any amnesty in Spain?
There have been several pardons throughout democracy, but there has only been one amnesty and it has little to do with the interests defended by the pro-independence parties today.
In October 1977, the Amnesty law was approved with the favorable votes of all deputies, with the exception of those from Alianza Popular and Euskadiko Ezkerra. A norm that came forward to take steps in the transition from Francoism to democracy.
The objective was to bet on the spirit of harmony after the dictatorship. Something that many historical memory associations have been denouncing for years because, by said rule, crimes with political intentions that occurred before that date could not be judged.
Is it constitutional?
The amnesty as such does not appear in the Constitution and is the subject of debates between jurists and magistrates. With the facts in hand, as collected a few weeks ago The countrythe Constitutional Court supported the fit of an amnesty in 22 rulings and there is no contrary ruling that invalidates said figure.
But in the debate that will take place in the coming days, some former magistrates defend that it does enter into the Magna Carta. “Of course there is room for an amnesty law within the Constitution, the legislator is fully competent to draft it, but in any case it must be adapted to the Constitution,” Eugenio Gay, former vice president of the Constitutional Court, assured the aforementioned media.
Juan Antonio Xiol, also vice president of the court until 2022, also stated in August in CatRadiowhich “fits perfectly into the Constitution if it meets the requirements” and, until now, “no ordinary judge has ever asked him to declare it unconstitutional and the court has applied it a multitude of times.”
This same Saturday, after defending the proposal, Sánchez justified that the fit of the norm, according to what the PSOE will propose, “will be fully constitutional.” “Dialogue is the way, the Constitution is the framework,” the leader of the Executive said a few weeks ago.
In the last ruling, from just over a year ago, the Constitutional Court recalled that “the 1983 Convention itself (art. 12) and the 2008 Framework Decision (art. 19) allow the granting of an amnesty, a pardon or a commutation of sentences.”
“The possible adaptation of a penalty implies in the present case a much less burdensome measure—from the perspective of the stability of ties between States—than that provided for in Article 12 of the 1983 Convention itself, which allows the parties to grant pardon, amnesty or commutation of the sentence in accordance with its Constitution or its other legal norms,'” the letter states.
A giant step in Sánchez’s investiture
When the doubts were multiplying, when no one was entirely sure that the PSOE was going to take the step, Sánchez has responded to rumors, demonstrations and more, and has made it known that he will defend the amnesty law in Catalonia.
But this new step taken by the acting President of the Government brings him a little closer to Moncloa. It is the first step in the negotiations with ERC and Junts and can be an important point in the attempt to gain his support in the investiture.
Without a clear date, Sánchez has already made his move, now it is the turn of the pro-independence parties and, if that is enough, the socialist president could avoid what he commented this Saturday: “We must make a virtue of necessity. This is the only possible way for there to be a possible Government in Spain and, therefore, not giving Feijóo and Abascal a second chance.