Catalan amnesty bill blocked in Congress: what now?

Socialists and Junts to renegotiate and bring the law back to chamber in a few weeks

The Spanish Congress debates the amnesty bill on January 30
The Spanish Congress debates the amnesty bill on January 30 / Congress
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

January 31, 2024 01:11 PM

January 31, 2024 08:08 PM

The amnesty law for those involved in the Catalan independence movement suffered an unexpected blow on Tuesday after being blocked by Catalan pro-independence Junts in the Spanish Congress.  

Junts argued that the law did not fully protect former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont from being charged with terrorism in the Tsunami Democràtic investigation and that further amendments were needed. 

What happens next?  

The vote took place in three stages: first on the amendments proposed by Junts, then on the resolution of the law, and finally on the entire text.  

The amendments to the law proposed by Junts, which included the elimination of terrorism as an exception to the law's application, were rejected as expected

In a surprising turn of events, Junts opposed the law in the last vote, but supported it in the second. This decision is crucial because if Junts had said no in the second vote, the entire law would have to start the parliamentary process all over again.   

Now that Junts has passed this stage, the law only needs to go back to the Justice Commission for further discussion and negotiation based on the latest version of the text.   

Sources from Congress suggest that the law could return to the chamber in two to three weeks if Junts and the Socialists reach a new agreement on the final text.

Post-vote blame game

After the vote, a blame game broke out between the political parties. Spanish Justice Minister Félix Bolaños lashed out at Junts, saying it was "absolutely incomprehensible" that they had voted against the amnesty.   

"They voted against a law that they had agreed to, they voted for it four times in the parliamentary vote, and now they have voted against it along with the conservative PP and the far-right Vox, precisely those who want them in jail and illegalized," he said. 

In response, Carles Puigdemont, former Catalan president and de facto leader of Junts, accused the Socialists of refusing to change the "majors flaws" of the law. 

"We are committed to voting for an integral, complete and non-exclusive amnesty law. Exactly what we agreed with Sánchez to make him PM," he said. 

In the same vein, Junts general secretary Jordi Turull called on the Socialists to continue negotiating to ensure that Puigdemont and ERC general secretary Marta Rovira, both of whom face terrorism charges in the Tsunami Democràtic investigation, are protected by the law. 

Pro-independence Esquerra leader Oriol Junqueras, who voted in favor of the law, said it deserved the support of the Junts and that it was "solid" and gave legal protection to those accused in the Tsunami Democràtic.   

Catalan president Pere Aragonès sent a positive message, hoping that the law would eventually be approved, but said it was "unfortunate" that Junts had voted against it. 

In an interview with Politico Europe during his official trip to Brussels, the Catalan president called on Junts and the Socialists to "work with responsibility" to approve the amnesty law.