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Spain's parliament votes against amnesty law

Spain's Prime Minister Sánchez suffered a defeat in parliament in the vote on the controversial amnesty law for Catalan separatists. Tens of thousands had previously demonstrated against the project.

The controversial plan for an amnesty for Catalan separatists has suffered a setback in the Spanish parliament. The lower house in Madrid rejected the left-wing government's bill and sent the rules back to the justice committee.

As expected, not only members of the conservative and right-wing populist opposition, who categorically reject an amnesty, voted against the project, but also representatives of the Catalan Junts party. The latter is seeking to amend the draft to ensure that no separatist is excluded from the planned remission.

Amnesty promise should secure re-election

The socialist head of government Pedro Sánchez promised the “Catalanistas” the amnesty in order to secure the votes of the separatist parties Junts and ERC for his re-election in the Madrid parliament in mid-November.

The Justice Committee is expected to deal with the project again for several weeks. The House of Commons must then vote on a new version. If the “Law for Institutional, Political and Social Normalization in Catalonia” clears this hurdle, the Senate will have to deal with it.

Sánchez wants dialogue instead of secession

The conservative People's Party PP led by opposition leader Alberto Núñez Feijoó has a majority of seats there. It was only on Sunday that tens of thousands in Madrid protested again against the planned amnesty following a call from the PP. This resistance will save the endangered democracy in Spain, said Feijóo. The project is a “disgrace” for the country.

The liberal Junts of separatist leader Carles Puigdemont, who has been living in exile in Belgium since the failed separation attempt in autumn 2017, and the left-wing ERC of regional president Pere Aragonès are both aiming for Catalonia to secede from Spain. But Sánchez wants to prevent this and defuse the conflict through dialogue and concessions.

Two judges are currently investigating Puigdemont and other separatists in Spain on charges of terrorism. Those affected risk being left out of the amnesty if the current version of the draft is not changed. That would inevitably endanger the stability of the left-wing government.

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