Javier Soriano Agence France-Presse Pedro Sánchez defended constitutionality on Wednesday before the Chamber of Deputies of the amnesty he granted to the Catalan independence parties and called the right-wing opposition to “responsibility”.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez defended on Wednesday the amnesty granted to the Catalan independence parties in exchange for his return to power, calling on the opposition to “responsibility” in a context of strong tensions caused by this controversial project. /p>
“We preferred reunion to revenge, unity to fracture,” declared the socialist leader, in power since 2018, during his inauguration speech before the Chamber of Deputies.
The future amnesty law, intended to turn the page on the attempted secession of Catalonia in 2017, “will benefit many people and political leaders”, pursued by the courts, “whose ideas and whose actions I reject,” explained Mr. Sánchez.
But it is necessary to “close the wounds” opened by this “political crisis of which no one can be proud”, he continued, assuring, in front of the deputies, that he wanted to guarantee “the unity of Spain through path of dialogue and forgiveness.”
During this one hour and forty-five minute speech, Mr. Sánchez defended the constitutionality of this measure, to which he had opposed in the past, and called out the right-wing opposition, which brought down hundreds of thousands of people in the streets on Sunday, to “responsibility”.
“The problem of the People's Party” (PP), the main right-wing party, and the far-right party “Vox, this is not not the amnesty”, but the fact “that they do not accept the result” of the legislative elections in July, launched Mr. Sánchez, who will submit to a vote of confidence on Thursday.
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Coming in second place behind his conservative rival Alberto Núñez Feijóo in the July 23 vote, Pedro Sánchez is assured of obtaining the majority necessary for his reappointment.< /p>
Unlike the leader of the PP, unable to come to power due to lack of sufficient support in Parliament, the socialist leader, renowned for his ability to survive politically, has in fact managed to forge multiple alliances.
He thus obtained the support of the far left, in exchange for an agreement providing for a further increase in the minimum wage and a reduction from 40 to 37.5 hours in the length of the working week, and of the Basque parties.< /p>
The 51-year-old leader has also and above all garnered the support of the two major Catalan separatist groups: Together for Catalonia (Junts), of Carles Puigdemont, and Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC).
What ensure a total of 179 votes in Parliament, while the absolute majority is set at 176.
But the amnesty measure – requested in particular by Carles Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium in 2017 to escape to legal proceedings — has awakened a deep divide within Spanish society and raised doubts about Mr. Sánchez's ability to govern calmly.
For ten days, daily rallies of the far right, sometimes violent, have taken place in front of the headquarters of the Socialist Party in Madrid. The PP and Vox, which calls for “resistance” to the new government, have also planned to increase legal appeals against the amnesty.
Pedro Sánchez accepted this measure “exclusively to (obtain) the seven votes” of Junts deputies “which he needs”, denounced Wednesday the number two of the PP, Cuca Gamarra. “It is neither for Spain nor in the name of the Spanish people,” she insisted, accusing the Prime Minister of fueling “division.”
Due to tensions surrounding his inauguration, more than 1,600 police officers were deployed on Wednesday around Parliament, completely cordoned off by the police. A system equivalent to that of a football match classified as high risk.
The Prime Minister “will break the equality of Spaniards before the law”, denounced to AFP Jacinto Medina, 50 years old, came to demonstrate a good distance from the Upper House, in front of a banner accusing the socialist of “treason”. “He is selling Spain” to the Catalan separatists, said Belen Valdez, wrapped in a Spanish flag.
Speaking on these gatherings, Pedro Sánchez defended the right to demonstrate, while calling on the right not to “take advantage of this situation to set fire to the street.”