Amnesty law could take months to be approved – here's what happens next 

Bill could still face political and legal obstacles before coming into effect

Catalan former president Carles Puigdemont in a press conference on November 9, 2023
Catalan former president Carles Puigdemont in a press conference on November 9, 2023 / Albert Cadanet
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

November 13, 2023 06:07 PM

November 13, 2023 08:03 PM

Pedro Sánchez has reached a deal with Catalan pro-independence parties Junts and ERC to support his bid to become prime minister. In exchange, the Socialists will pass a controversial amnesty law. 

The rule includes the pardon of the "criminal, administrative and accounting responsibility" of all those who have committed crimes related to the Catalan independence push over the past ten years - between January 1, 2012 and this Monday, November 13, 2023. 

The law will be signed by the parties making up the new majority in Spain’s Congress: the Socialists, left-wing Sumar, Catalan pro-independence ERC and Junts, Basque nationalists PNV and Bildu, and Galician nationalist BNG. Their expected backing of Pedro Sánchez on Wednesday will re-elect him as PM. The Canarian Coalition will support Pedro Sánchez in the investiture debate but will not vote in favor of the amnesty bill.  

When the rule comes into effect, it will benefit the pro-independence forces involved at all levels, from the highest involvement to the lowest. As a result, Esquerra Republicana leader Oriol Junqueras will no longer be barred from holding public office, and former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont will be able to return to Spain without having to go through a trial. 

However, the approval of the law could take months, as it can be delayed in the Senate by the conservative People's Party, who have a majority in the upper house, and then blocked by the Constitutional Court.  

Here is what could happen in the next few months. 


The amnesty law was registered in Congress on Monday. The 23-page text, called "Organic Amnesty Law for the Institutional, Political and Social Normalization in Catalonia,", will now go through the usual Congressional procedure.   

It will first need to pass the Congress Bureau, which is currently in the hands of the Socialists and Sumar. This body determines the admissibility of proposed bills, based on the opinions of lawyers, although their reports are not final.  

Once the bill is deemed admissible, it will be discussed in the plenary session of Congress, allowing parties to voice their positions and arguments. Amendments could be made in the following weeks.   

The bill would then go through a committee, receive a second vote and return to the plenary session.   

Given the nature of the bill, it will require an absolute majority, which Pedro Sánchez now has in Congress, and is likely to pass this first stage without complications. It is expected to be achieved in less than a month


The bill could face many challenges before it is passed and the first may be in the Senate, which is dominated by an absolute majority of the conservative People's Party (PP).  

Miguel Tellado, PP's Deputy Organizational Secretary, has already said they will use "all legal and political means" to prevent the law from being passed.  

The bill was registered in Congress for processing "by [an]urgent procedure" and not by single reading, which is the argument the Senate could use to delay the procedure. 

If the Senate ratifies the bill as "urgent,", it has 20 calendar days to act on it. However, it is likely that the PP will consider it "ordinary,", in which case they will have up to two months to act on it.  

Another obstacle could be that January does not count as a working month, so the two months would actually become three. The bill could be stuck in the Senate until mid-March. 

Constitutional Court 

If the Senate vetoes or amends the law, which is likely to happen given the conservative majority, the law will return to Congress. There, Pedro Sánchez will again have to use his majority to override the Senate's veto and corresponding amendments to pass the law. Only then would the amnesty bill be approved and enforced. 

However, if a court raises the question of unconstitutionality, the amnesty bill would not come into effect until Spain's Constitutional Court gives its verdict, which could take another six months.  

At this point, it is impossible to know with certainty when the law will be passed and come into effect, as it may face many obstacles along the way. For this reason, the Socialists' legal teams have been scrutinizing the text to prevent it from being overturned.