Carles Puigdemont said he may have eyes on taking a run at the Catalonia Government leadership, which “would bring him great joy”. (Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)


Spanish Parliament passes Amnesty bill; Catalonia calls snap election


The Spanish Parliament has approved a controversial amnesty bill for Catalan separatists.

With 178 votes in favour, this time the bill received the crucial support of Carles Puigdemont’s Junts per Catalunya party. Junts, a right-wing pro-independence party, had originally withdrawn support from a similar bill it called a “trap”.

The opposition, led by the centre-right Partido Popular (PP), the Conservative party VOX and the regional parties of Navarre and the Canary Islands, garnered a total 172 votes for the March 14 vote.

The Catalonia regional Government has called a snap election – to be held on May 12 this year – after President Pere Aragonès failed to pass the budget for the Autonomous Community. The vote was originally scheduled for February 2025.

The Catalan elections will now take place less than a month before the European Parliament elections in early June and three weeks after the Basque regional contests.

Aragonès said: “Catalans will choose between responsibility or irresponsibility.”

Critics, including the Socialist mayor of Barcelona Jaume Collboni, have called the entire situation “unstable”.

Puigdemont, the separatist leader currently in exile in Belgium, could, technically, run for president of the Generalitat de Catalunya – the Catalonia Government. He has said the prospect of running again “would bring him great joy”.

Still, he cannot set foot on Spanish territory until the Amnesty Law, following the passing of the bill, is fully in place. It must first go to the Senate, which the PP controls.

According to VOX, the PP could yet put a stop to the bill in the Upper House. It has an absolute majority in the Senate’s Bureau and may refuse to table the debate in the Chamber, triggering an “institutional conflict” that would mean the matter would have to “be decided by the courts and not the Government”.

VOX has been leading an international effort to fight the amnesty bill through its think-tank Fundación Disenso.

Jorge Martín Frías, its Director, told Brussels Signal in October that the ruling PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party) “is going to put an end to constitutional democracy with the passing of an amnesty law that has no place within our legal framework”.

VOX worries that the PP might let the bill run its course, although PP leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo has insisted it “would not pass the filter of the Senate”.

The Spanish Congress rejected rejected the first version of the Amnesty Bill in January on the deciding vote of Junts, which claimed it did not ensure “enough guarantees”. Several separatist leaders have spent time in Spanish prisons.