The Catalan pro-independence parties are expected to register their bill for an amnesty law for the Catalonia conflict in the Congress of Deputies tomorrow. But before it even reaches the Spanish lower house, the Socialists (PSOE) have already closed the door. This was signalled by party organizational secretary and works minister José Luis Ábalos, who reiterated his position "against the amnesty approach", due to its generic nature and its "political character", of "absolution". At most, there are "particular" cases that could be resolved using other legal approaches, such as pardons - although this route is also being kept on ice by the Spanish government, despite the Catalan elections having been and gone.
In a press conference today after the PSOE executive met, José Luis Ábalos observed dourly that "we have always expressed our position against" an amnesty agreement. While the party is "willing to accept particular cases, in accordance with the law, never an amnesty." This amnesty would have "a character that would be much more political, of absolution." That is why the Socialist leadership has opted for "the pardon approach" which is a "legal figure" for specific cases. "Not a general pardon, because we would then be in an amnesty," he concluded.
Last December, the three pro-independence parties in the Parliament of Catalonia, JxCat, ERC and the CUP, passed, with the abstention of the Comuns, a resolution proposing an amnesty law. The next step was the presentation by the three parties of an amnesty bill to be considered by the Spanish Congress, which will take place tomorrow. Given the parliamentary majorities in the Congress of Deputies, the initiative is doomed to failure, because the PSOE will send the bill straight to the waste paper basket. Although the three Socialists and three Unidas Podemos MPs, constitute a majority in the Bureau, they will not allow the bill to be considered by the Spanish Parliament.
This, despite an amnesty being the clear election proposal of all the parties in the victorious pro-independence bloc, in February's Catalan election campaign. The parties also want to make the amnesty plan part of the dialogue and negotiation table between the Spanish state and the Catalan government, alongside the referendum on self-determination. But the PSOE does not accept it. Nor are the Socialists making any proactive effort to move forward the other two alternatives.
On the one hand, the legal reforms to the crimes of rebellion and sedition remain without any dates being set or forecast. Justice minister Juan Carlos Campo has included these in a much more comprehensive reform of the Penal Code which will take much more work. Gone is the promise to take it to the cabinet before the end of 2020. On the other hand, the Supreme Court is still waiting for the state solicitors' report on the pardons for the nine political prisoners. Once this arrives, the court will issue its opinion and the matter will return to the cabinet table. But there are no weather outlooks on this either. And Madrid's electoral climate does not suggest that it will be imminent.