Spain: will the controversial amnesty law be passed?

Spain's Congress of Deputies will vote today on whether Pedro Sánchez will become prime minister again. His PSOE party wants to form a government together with the leftist alliance Sumar. However, he needs the support of the pro-independence parties Junts and ERC, and that support is contingent on the passing of an amnesty law against which hundreds of thousands of people protested on Sunday. Europe's press observes the developments with concern.

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Le Monde (FR) /

Weakening the rule of law

Former French prime minister Manuel Valls and historian Benoît Pellistrandi voice concern in Le Monde:

“As Europeans, we should be extremely worried to see a major country taking the path of weakening the rule of law. ... One would have liked to see the great Spanish social democracy show more courage and historical consistency, and counter marginalisation and hatred with understanding and consensus. How can Pedro Sánchez justify rejecting dialogue with the major Spanish party, the Partido Popular, and accepting the unreasonable conditions of a party that has only 1.6 percent of the vote nationally and 11.16 percent in Catalonia?”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

Europe breathed sigh of relief too soon

This time Sánchez has gone too far, fumes Handelsblatt:

“Sánchez has made U-turns in the past when it suited him. But now he is crossing several red lines and jeopardising the credibility of his party and politics as a whole. What are Spaniards supposed to believe in the next election if, depending on the result, everything is different afterwards? ... Europe breathed a sigh of relief after the parliamentary elections in Spain last July when the country didn't end up with a government that included the far-right Vox party. But the leftist alternative, which depends on the Catalan separatists, could potentially cause greater damage to the country.”

Le Temps (CH) /

Political calculations making matters worse

Le Temps also criticises Sánchez:

“Freed from Francoism, democratic Spain initially tried to resolve the nationality issue with a series of generous, sometimes extravagant measures. Then Madrid brought out the truncheons when the independence referendum in Catalonia in 2017 was ruled unconstitutional, unilateral and illegal. Pedro Sánchez is right: Spain cannot resolve this matter by imprisoning those involved and letting the police and courts have the last word. However, by linking this fundamental issue to his own political calculations, he is only making matters worse.”

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

Secrecy confuses the citizens

El Periódico de Catalunya calls for transparency and legality:

“The PSOE, its leaders and its supporters have taken this step together, as have the [coalition partners] Junts, Sumar and Esquerra. ... But they have all done this without publicly discussing the central issue of this agreement, the amnesty law. This secrecy has left millions of citizens confused. ... Sánchez's candidacy is legitimate, as are the demonstrations against it, while it is up to Congress, the courts and the Constitutional Court to scrutinise the legality of the agreed law. Sánchez should take note of what the people on the street are telling him and Feijóo should make sure to defend everything within the legitimate framework.”

El País (ES) /

Sánchez and Feijóo must be careful

El País warns both the Socialists and the opposition:

“The PSOE and its partners would be wrong to ignore the social implications of these demonstrations, no matter how much the inflammatory rhetoric of the right is distorting the debate. ... Pedro Sánchez is preparing to govern for all Spaniards, including the demonstrators. ... Alberto Núñez Feijóo has announced that he wants to continue mobilising the people until a new election is held. ... In a parliamentary system, it is the person who achieves a majority through agreements and concessions that governs. To label those who achieve this as illegitimate distorts the rules of the game laid down in the 1978 constitution.”

The Irish Times (IE) /

A chance for reconciliation

The deal deserves a chance, writes The Times:

“The complex deal is far from the caricature of capitulation to Catalan demands portrayed by the Spanish nationalist right. It has the considerable virtue of persuading the major pro-independence forces, at least for now, to return to operating within constitutional limits. And these Catalans can argue that they were forced onto a newly radical route in 2010 by the PP's dubious utilisation of the Constitutional Court. It eviscerated a new Catalan Statute of Autonomy, approved by the Catalan and Spanish parliaments, and by Catalan voters, in 2006.”