A demonstrator holds a banner reading 'Amnesty No' during a protest held outside the Congress of Deputies during the second day of acting Spanish Prime Minister's Pedro Sanchez's investiture debate and vote, in Madrid, Spain, 16 November 2023. EPA-EFE/Sergio Perez


Shock in Spain: Puigdemont’s party votes against Catalan amnesty law


Carles Puigdemont’s Spanish party Junts per Catalunya has voted against the controversial amnesty law it has pushed for since last year.

Junts speaker Miriam Nogueras said on January 30 that Prime Minster Pedro Sánchez’s Government had not provided “enough guarantees”.

“There are holes in this law,” said Nogueras. “A selective amnesty is not the amnesty we agreed on.”

According to Junts, the bill as is would leave out people convicted over the October 2017 separatists’ efforts that included a unilateral declaration of independence.

Nogueras took a swipe at the Spanish justice system, which is investigating alleged Russian interference in the Catalan separatist movement.

She asked Sánchez to stand against the “prevaricating judges” whom she said synchronise judicial agendas with political agendas.

Puigdemont listed what he called the many “shortcomings” in the failed amnesty bill and expressed doubt over “a justice system that violates fundamental rights” that he has “no confidence” in.

The centre-right Partido Popular, the Conservative party Vox and the regional parties from Navarre and the Canary Islands also voted against the amnesty bill.

It will be returned to the Justice Committee.

The Socialist Party (PSOE) now has a 15-day deadline to re-negotiate with Junts, draft a new bill and present it before the Spanish Parliament.

This is the Prime Minister’s first parliamentary defeat and the setback will delay the bill’s possible approval for another two months.

According to observers, Junts’ vote against the PSOE’s amnesty bill revealed cracks in Sánchez’s coalition in Parliament.

Alberto Núñez Feijóo, the leader of the opposition, said Junts’ vote was a “humiliation” for Sánchez.

“Sánchez chose power in exchange of principles,” he said.

Feijóo also called upon the European Union to “stop the attacks on the rule-of-law” in Spain.

PSOE opposition parties in the European Parliament had been lobbying hard against the bill.

VOX took the fight against the Catalan amnesty to Brussels in October 2023. It sent all MEPS a report by its think-tank Fundación Disenso along with a series of legal analyses and arguments that it said rendered the amnesty “unconstitutional”.

Vox also forwarded the document to the European Council.

Former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe González, a member of Sánchez’s Socialist party, also voiced his opposition to the amnesty bill,

Spain’s Parliament voted on the controversial bill amid a wave of revelations regarding Russian connections with the Catalan separatist movement.

The Spanish National High Court had earlier ruled that close aides to Puigdemont had known about Russia’s plan to invade Ukraine since 2018.