Amnesty? What amnesty?

sanchez elections

Fernando González Urbaneja ! The Catalan pro-independence supporters have imposed the discourse of amnesty, which they demand so that justice will forget about their leaders. A very particular and personal matter has become a national issue, a matter of state, a hinge of the legislature’s being or not being. All of this is evident, and that is why amnesty has become the issue of the moment, at least until the second investiture of this legislature is held.

But while one side in this debate – the pro-independence supporters who demand it – talk non-stop and demand it without tax, the other side – the socialists who, once reinstated in government, would grant it – have barely said anything beyond that they seek the “normalisation” of Catalonia; one of those propositions devoid of content, since no one is capable of specifying what is normal and what is abnormal.

The enthusiasm with which the second-line socialists devoted to Sánchez defend their path to Catalan normalisation (amnesty for separatist leaders) is not explained by their convictions, but by their needs, to add essential votes to Sánchez’s presidency. What they are defending now would not be part of their concerns if they had enough votes to do without the pro-independence supporters. As things stand, everything depends on what suits their own interests.

Neither Sánchez nor his envoys pronounce the word amnesty, the question is to go beyond this framework to replace it with normalisation, pacification, the greater good of Catalonia. That is why talking about amnesty is another empty proposition, as long as its meaning is not specified, which, as in Alice in Wonderland, can mean whatever anyone wants it to mean.

Feijóo tried to get the Socialists to specify, to get Sánchez to talk. He did not succeed, nor was he surprised because Sánchez’s intentions are easy to guess. The independentistas, led by Puigdemont, by Junqueras or Aragonés… can say whatever they want, but when the day and time comes (before the end of November) they will have to choose between accepting what Sánchez tells them or going back to the polls, which could be the worst of the alternatives for almost everyone.

Sánchez knows that for the independentistas the ballot boxes are very dangerous in view of the voting trends and even the polls that everyone is still scrutinising. It means giving Feijóo another chance, playing Russian roulette. Sánchez is left – in the case of a repeat election – with the argument that he resisted the demands of the independentistas and insist on the fear of the post-Francoist and anti-feminist “right-wing”. It worked for them in July and it could work in January… although there is a risk because you can’t fool everyone all the time.

Dressing up what the pro-independence supporters call amnesty with whatever has its effects without running up against the rule of law is the exercise that Sánchez’s experts are trying to articulate with the legal facundia of which they are capable.

About the Author

Fernando Gonzalez Urbaneja
Over 30 years working in economic journalism. Fernando was founder and chief-editor at El País, general editor at the business daily Cinco Días, and now teaches at Universidad Carlos III. He's been president of the Madrid Press Association and the Spanish Federation of Press Associations. He's also member of the Spanish press complaints commission.