Pedro Sánchez's Spanish government had a carefully-calculated plan to elude the debate on an amnesty for the political prisoners, a demand widely backed in Catalan society, and the tactic consisted of substituting a pardon for the amnesty and trusting that once the pro-independence leaders were back on the street, the independence movement would accept it. Thus, the government of Sánchez and Iglesias, comfortably installed in a neutral position, would have breathing space to explain to Spain that it had imposed its own will ahead of the call for an amnesty, and to Catalonia that it had been decisive in achieving the release of the prisoners. Back in summer, it was thought this had to happen before Christmas this year - the fourth festive season spent behind bars for the nine political prisoners sentenced in the Supreme Court trial.
But what Pedro Sánchez and Pablo Iglesias did not expect was that they would close 2020 having lost a degree of control over power in the country, and that the justice system, far from being independent, would behave as a counterweight to the executive. The position taken by the Supreme Court public prosecutors, arguing against the granting of pardons, exudes a certain air of revenge and marks a path that the Supreme Court will surely follow: "Compliance with the sentences is an inescapable requirement and taking shortcuts to evade the court's ruling cannot and must not be accepted."
So much so, that it has been the Spanish justice minister himself, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, who has expressed that the report of the public prosecutors has a political bias, pointing out that he likes reports within the realm of the judiciary to have a technical-legal approach. Another minister, Consumer Affairs head Alberto Garzón, went further and said openly that Catalan political prisoners should be released.
In the coming weeks, the processing of the pardon will be completed and we shall see if the Spanish executive has a sense of power minimally sufficient to rise above the judicial bunker. Although the government's permanent retreat is already a fact, one could think that an issue like this one of the pardon, although delayed, would come to fruition. To tell the truth, I personally would not bet on them carrying out the pardon this time, even doing so a few weeks late. In any case, it will be necessary to continue demanding an amnesty, despite the unwillingness of anyone outside the boundaries of Catalonia to ease the pressure.