Published: 16:17, November 9, 2023 | Updated: 20:35, November 9, 2023
Spain's Socialists 'reach deal with Catalan Junts for govt support'
By Reuters

Spain's acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez participates in an investiture session at the Spanish parliament in Madrid, Spain, Sept 27, 2023. (PHOTO/ AP)

MADRID -  Spain's Socialists have reached a deal with the Catalan separatist Junts party for government support, a source close to the negotiations told Reuters on Thursday, a pact which could draw strong criticism if it involves amnesties for separatist activists.

Spain's state-owned TVE television station and Barcelona-based La Vanguardia newspaper also reported the Socialists and Junts had reached a deal.

Junts has said during negotiations that it would give its seven votes in parliament in exchange for an amnesty law that could exculpate as many as 1,400 activists and politicians involved in a failed attempt to separate Catalonia from the rest of Spain that reached a head in 2017

The Socialist Party (PSOE) did not immediately respond to request for comment, while a spokesman for Junts declined to comment. Asked about a deal on Thursday morning, Acting Economy Minister Nadia Calviño said: "I hope we have a government as soon as possible."

Spain's acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and his PSOE are trying to form a government after a July election produced produced no outright winner.

He reached a deal to govern in coalition with the hard left Sumar platform last month but also needs several other smaller parties - who have supported him in the past - to back him in an investiture vote that could take place as soon as next week.

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Junts has said during negotiations that it would give its seven votes in parliament in exchange for an amnesty law that could exculpate as many as 1,400 activists and politicians involved in a failed attempt to separate Catalonia from the rest of Spain that reached a head in 2017.

The potential amnesty has met fierce condemnation from Sanchez's conservative opponents who have organised large protests and accused him of putting the rule of law in Spain on the line for his own political gain.

On Wednesday, the European Commission's Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders wrote to the Spanish government asking for more details about the amnesty agreement being negotiated.

"Serious concerns are now being voiced as regards ongoing discussions on the possible adoption of an amnesty law," he wrote in a letter sent to Spanish Presidency Minister Felipe Bolanos.

ALSO READ:Spain Socialists win Catalan separatist aid, Junts pending

"While for the time being there is no formal proposal, this has become a matter of considerable importance in the public debate and the Commission has been contacted on this matter, including by a large number of citizens."

Bolanos responded on Wednesday, saying: "Should an amnesty bill be registered (in parliament), be assured that we will explain to you all the details of such a law, as well as the position of our government."

The potential amnesty has also drawn fire from Spanish judges who warned this week it could undermine the rule of law - a shot across the bows for a law that Catalan separatist parties fear could be watered down by judges in its implementation in individual cases, regardless of what the socialists and Junts agree.

Pablo Simon, a political expert at the Carlos III University in Madrid, said that fear was legitimate.

"Unlike the pardons which the governments gave out to (individual) Catalan separatists, the amnesty law will take much longer to be processed, going through parliament, with each case reviewed by judges," he told TVE television on Thursday.