Juridification of the Independence bid

The PSOE sides with PP and Vox at Spanish Parliament's Bureau and rejects amnesty law

The lawyers proposed not to admit the initiative because they equate it to a general pardon, which the Constitution prohibits

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Representatives of pro-independence parties, Òmnium Cultural and the platform Amnistia y Libertad, at the gates of Congress

MadridThe amnesty law's journey through the Spanish Parliament has come to an end, after the PSOE has aligned with the PP and Vox to reject it at the Bureau. Unidas Podemos was left alone voting in favour of processing the proposal that the Catalan pro-independence formations presented last week and which had received a critical report from the lawyers. "By assuming the granting of a general pardon that affects a plurality of subjects who have been convicted in court would enter into clear and obvious contradiction with the provisions of Article 62, paragraph i) of the Constitution, according to which no general pardons can be authorised," argued the legal services.

The position of the PP and Vox could be taken for granted, while the PSOE had not wanted to clarify whether it would at least let the law be debated in parliament. Once the opinion of the lawyers was known, however, the chances that the law would go ahead were highly remote because the Socialists would hardly challenge the lawyers' criteria regarding an initiative that they oppose head-on. "It has no place in the Constitution," said last week the Socialist spokeswoman in the lower house, Adriana Lastra, who failed to specify what would be the position of the three PSOE deputies at the bureau. She had made it clear that in a hypothetical vote on its content, PSOE would oppose it.

Criticism from the investiture partners

The PSOE once again sided with parties with which it maintains a stronger rivalry in Congress, while the parties that have contributed to the governability have again criticised its position, as they do when it rejects initiatives to investigate the Spanish monarchy. PNV spokesman Aitor Esteban has shown his "surprise" over the bureau's decision and has echoed the opinions of several professors who belieeve an amnesty law is viable.

The pro-independence movement was aware that this was a major obstacle. The law devotes a large part of the explanatory memorandum to justifying the legality of the law, even though the amnesty law is not explicitly provided for in the Magna Carta. Precisely for this reason, because it is not forbidden, the promoters believe that this way of setting a clean slate for all those judicial cases linked to the Independence bid since January 1, 2013 should be allowed.

"The constitutional silence on amnesty, combined with the express prohibition of general pardons, has led some sectors of the criminal doctrine to argue that the Constitution excludes amnesty from our legal system, with the argument that if the constitutional text expressly prohibits general pardons it must be understood that the deeper the amnesty, the more prohibition. This interpretation of prohibitionist sign has been contravened by numerous pronouncements of criminal and constitutional doctrine, which have defended the admissibility of amnesty in the framework of the Constitution of 1978," says the law of ERC, JxCat, PDECat and CUP

In this sense, they cite as an example a sentence of the Constitutional Court regarding the 1976 amnesty law -previous to the Constitution of 1978- that would support the permissive doctrinal orientation. "It does not question in constitutional terms the action of the legislator in the approval of the amnesty, affirming that the possibility of conceiving it as a retroactive way of derogation of norms and linked effects", add the pro-independence parties in the exposition of motives of the bill. In addition, they emphasize that an amnesty is not the same as a general pardon and that there are precedents of having approved amnesties without express constitutional protection, such as those of 1976 and 1936 in Spain.