(FILE) Catalan former President and Member of the European Parliament, Carles Puigdemont (C), meets with members of Catalan independentist party JxCat Jordi Turull (2R) and Laura Borras (3L), among others, in Brussels, Belgium, 02 November 2023. EFE/ Antonio Suarez BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE

Spain’s Socialists, pro-independence Catalans continue talks over coalition, amnesty

Brussels, Nov 7 (EFE).- Government formation talks between representatives from Spain’s Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) and Junts per Catalunya (JxCAT) continued in Brussels on Tuesday.

The discussions between Spanish interim prime minister Pedro Sánchez’s PSOE and the separatist Catalan party, whose leader Carles Puigdemont has lived in exile in Belgium since being charged with sedition for his role in an unsanctioned 2017 independence referendum, center around a potential amnesty for the JxCAT chief and other Catalan separatists.

Sources familiar with the talks confirmed to EFE that discussions were ongoing but that it was unclear when or if an agreement would be reached.

Sánchez’s plans to pardon Catalan separatists as part of his bid to gather enough support for a coalition government has triggered intense criticism from the country’s right-wing parties.

(FILE) The president of the PP, Alberto Núñez Feijóo (C-L), accompanied by the mayor of Valencia, María José Catalá (L), by the president of the Valencian Community, Carlos Mazón (C-R), and by the general secretary of the PP, Cuca Gamarra (R), take part in a rally against the proposed amnesty for the leaders of the 2017 referendum in Catalonia, in Valencia, Spain, 5 November 2023. EFE/ Juan Carlos Cárdenas

The leader of the conservative People’s Party (PP), Alberto Núñez Feijóo, on Monday announced protests for Nov. 12 in town squares in every Spanish provincial capital to denounce Sánchez’s plans, while the head of the far-right Vox, Santiago Abascal, said the party would file a complaint to the Supreme Court if the amnesty law is approved on the grounds that it is “flagrantly unconstitutional”.

Hundreds of thousands of people have turned out against the proposed amnesty at rallies in recent weeks and months.

King Felipe VI appointed Sánchez to form a government last month, after Feijóo – whose PP had narrowly beaten PSOE in a July snap election – had failed in his attempts to garner enough support for a parliamentary majority.

Last week, Sánchez received the backing of PSOE members to form a coalition with the left-wing Sumar and try to attract support from other regional political parties – including pro-independence groups in Catalonia and the Basque Country – to secure a governing majority.

Ahead of the vote, Sánchez had said an amnesty was the only way for the PSOE to govern and for the country to move forward.

Spain King Felipe VI meets interim prime minister and leader of PSOE Pedro Sanchez at the Zarzuela Palace in Madrid, Spain, 3 October 2023. EFE/ Juanjo Guillén POOL

“In the name of Spain, in the interest of Spain, in defense of coexistence among Spaniards, I defend today the amnesty in Catalonia for the events of the past decade,” the Socialist Party leader told the PSOE federal committee on Oct. 28.

The interim prime minister has already agreed a deal with separatists Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (Republican Left of Catalonia).

Many leading Catalan politicians, including former regional president Puigdemont, were charged with sedition for holding an independence referendum in 2017. Nine were pardoned in 2019 and released from prison.

Puigdemont has said he will only consider backing the interim prime minister if the charges against him and dozens of others are lifted. EFE