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The acting Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, smoothed the path for an amnesty law this Tuesday, claiming "the success" of his 2021 action of pardoning the nine pro-independence political prisoners. He did, however, reject the holding of a self-determination referendum because "the Catalans want re-encounter". This is what he said, in an appearance at the Moncloa palace, just after Felipe VI had designated him as candidate for investiture as Spanish PM for a second term. "It's time for politics, for commitment to the country and generosity", he asserted, as well as promising to govern Spain taking into account "the plurality of the parliament" and the "diversity of the nation".

Will there be a photograph of Pedro Sánchez with Carles Puigdemont in Waterloo? The president of the Spanish government has made it clear that that won't happen. He explained that in the coming days he is to meet with the spokespeople and/or presidents of the parliamentary groups in the Congress of Deputies, and closed the door to meeting with the leaders of these parties if they do not have a seat in the lower house. Likewise, he indicated that the first of his meetings will be with Yolanda Díaz, leader of Sumar, with whom he wants to "re-assemble the progressive coalition government". In this way, he sought to silence the messages that have been circulated this week by his deputy PM's party, which has complained of being "very far away" from an agreement with the PSOE.

Door closed to a referendum

Although the Spanish PM opened the door wide open to an amnesty, he has left the referendum door locked and bolted. "Not only just because of commitment and constitutional requirement, but because of a political conviction", he stated when asked about the demand made last week by Together for Catalonia (Junts) and the Catalan Republican Left (ERC): "To work to make effective the conditions" that allow Catalans to be consulted about their political future, was the key demand made of Sánchez in the text agreed on by Junts and ERC. "What the Catalans are asking for is to turn the page on the situation and return to re-encounter, and that's where we're going," said Pedro Sánchez.

"Complex" negotiations that open the door to the amnesty

At the same time, the Socialist leader recognized that the negotiations to tie up his investiture will be "complex", because he also made it clear that he will seek that Junts and ERC grant him parliamentary stability throughout the legislature. He pointed out that it is necessary to continue to advance along the "path of coexistence and harmony" in Catalonia in order to overcome "past discord". He also argued that he does not feel at all "proud" of the events of October 2017. And he affirmed, in this regard, that the pardons to the nine Catalan political prisoners granted by his executive in 2021 were "correct". "Territorial tensions have reduced and Spain is more united," said the acting Spanish prime minister, in a phrase which was clearly aimed at paving the way for an amnesty law.

Pedro Sánchez, nominated candidate for the investiture by Felipe VI

The appearance of Pedro Sánchez at the Moncloa palace in Madrid came just minutes after the speaker of the Congress of Deputies, Francina Armengol, announced that king Felipe VI had proposed the PSOE leader as candidate to be re-elected Spanish PM. That was the head of state's decision after meeting with all the parties that agreed to meet with him in the latest round of contects. After Alberto Núñez Feijóo's attempt turned out to be a failure, the monarch is inclined to let the Socialist try his luck despite not having guaranteed support. In fact, at the moment he only has the 121 votes of the PSOE.

Date for investiture debate, up in the air

During his appearance, Pedro Sánchez did not reveal the day on which he wants his investiture debate to begin. Speaker Francina Armengol will have to communicate the date that she has agreed with the Socialist leader for the debate, with the key requirement being for Sánchez to have enough time to tie up an agreement with the pro-independence parties and retain his tenancy in the Moncloa government palace. The deadline for the investiture vote is November 27th.