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"As everyone knows, Catalan independentism is not terrorism; with this law, as the courts will conclude, all Catalan independentists will receive an amnesty; because they are not terrorists." A clear message from Pedro Sánchez directed, explicitly, to Spain's judges. And also to Together for Catalonia (Junts), which this week voted not to approve the current text of the amnesty bill, arguing that the legislation still has "loopholes" which some judges could slip through if their will is to carry on punishing Catalan independence supporters, by maintaining accusations that they could have committed crimes of terrorism or treason. The Spanish prime minister, once again seeking to calm these waters, in a press conference following the special meeting of the European Council this Thursday in Brussels, asserted that the amnesty is a "courageous, restorative and constitutional" law.

In fact, Spain's governing Socialists (PSOE) have already been signalling in recent weeks, in less direct messages than Sanchez's, that the Catalan independence movement has never used terrorism. Before now, PSOE politicians had commented that "everyone knows what terrorism is", with references to Spain's recent experience - the Basque group ETA, the radical left GRAPO or the Madrid train bombings - as examples in the "collective memory" of Spaniards of what terrorism is. But this time it was Pedro Sánchez who said it. And even spelled it out. And he made reference, in the same sentence, to the "courts".

Junts and the PSOE: stability and negotiations on the amnesty text

The prime minister, however, did not want to be trapped by his words regarding the negotiations with Junts. Thus, he did not comment on whether the PSOE will end up accepting new amendments to the law, as requested by the Catalan pro-independence party. But he insisted that the text is already "rigorous and solid" enough, in addition to having assured that no independence supporter will enter a jail because "that's what the courts will conclude". He acknowledged that during the negotiation process "everyone made concessions", but made a call to stop concentrating on who gave more and who gave less. "The key is to maintain firmness," he added.


Sánchez was also asked about whether the relationship with Junts is unstable enough to endanger the legislature. "I have never made any secret of the complexity of the legislature," he said. But at the same time he recalled that the current parliamentary arithmetic forces the PSOE and Junts to understand each other. "We are the only ones capable of managing this complexity," he said in reference to his own party. In addition, as evidence of his confidence in being able to maintain the solidity of his mandate, he recalled that in the last legislature his executive had to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, the war in Ukraine and inflation. "And even a volcano," he emphasized.

Nevertheless, Sánchez did reach out to Junts to be more flexible in their ability to reach agreements. "We are in a position where we have to face up to the full re-encounter between Catalans, and between Catalans and Spaniards; and make a major and positive step for society, because we will gain in our social harmony", he added.