Member of the European Parliament Carles Puigdemont gives a press conference in Brussels, Belgium, 09 November 2023. EFE/EPA/OLIVIER MATTHYS

Catalan separatists agree to back Socialist-led Spain gov’t after agreeing pardon

Madrid/Brussels, Nov 9 (EFE).- The Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) and Junts per Catalunya (‘Together for Catalonia’) reached an agreement Thursday for the Catalan separatist party to support a Socialist-led coalition government.

At the heart of the deal, which was reached after several days of intense negotiations in Brussels, is a controversial agreement for the Spanish government to pardon Catalan politicians and civilians who were charged for their involvement in an unsanctioned independence referendum in 2017.

The deal means PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez can be confirmed as Spain’s prime minister for another four-year term.

Spain’s acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (C) visits staff members of PSOE’s headquarters in Madrid, Spain, 08 November 2023, after the riots between anti-amnesty protestors and police the previous night. EFE/ PSOE HANDOUT ATTENTION EDITORS: HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES/ IMAGE TO BE USED ONLY IN RELATION TO THE STATED EVENT (MANDATORY CREDIT)

A debate and vote in parliament to approve the amnesty law and confirm Sánchez’s inauguration is expected next week.

Former Catalan regional president and Junts leader Carles Puigdemont, who has lived in exile in Belgium since he was charged with sedition following the referendum, had refused to back Sánchez in a coalition unless the charges against him and dozens of politicians and activists were lifted.

Addressing reporters in Brussels, Puigdemont said the deal opens an “unprecedented phase” and said the stability of the forthcoming legislature relied on the agreement being upheld.

“The legislature is tied to the progress and the fulfillment” of the deal with PSOE, Puigdemont said.

PSOE’s “number three”, Santos Cerdán, who has been leading the Socialists’ delegation in the talks this week in Brussels, said the agreement for a future amnesty covers people related “directly or indirectly” to the independence movement in Catalonia “between 2012 and 2023”.

It is an “historic opportunity to resolve a conflict that could and should be resolved politically” rather than through the courts, Cerdán said.

The amnesty law was the main stumbling block for the coalition agreement. Both parties say it is needed “to achieve full political, institutional and social normality” after a “judicialization of politics”, according to the document released by PSOE.

The pardon has been a deeply divisive issue in Spain, with right-wing groups particularly angry at the amnesty – which they believe is unconstitutional – and Sánchez, whom they accuse of giving in to the Catalan independence movement in order to remain in power.

Spanish police officers stand guard during a rally against amnesty rule to Catalan pro-independent leaders planned by acting Government in front of PSOE’s ruling party headquarters, in Madrid, Spain, 07 November 2023. EFE/ Sergio Perez

The People’s Party (PP), which narrowly beat PSOE in a July snap election but failed to garner enough support from other groups to form a government, has called for nationwide protests on Sunday.

Rallies in recent days have been held outside PSOE offices across the country, with a gathering in Madrid leading to violent clashes with police. EFE