The investiture triggers the Catalan portfolio in Madrid

Justice Minister calls for a "natural" approach to pardons for political prisoners

3 min
Pere Aragonès greeting Oriol Junqueras after being invested in Parliament.

MadridThe investiture impasse, added to the domino effect of the failed non-confidence vote in Murcia, which led to the surprise call for early elections in Madrid, paralysed everything. For more than two months the Catalan portfolio had been stuck in Madrid, even more so if we take into account the waiting period of the pandemic, but the proclamation of Pere Aragonès as 132 president of the Generalitat opens the door to a summer in which the Spanish president, Pedro Sánchez, will have to face key decisions that he has tried to delay as much as possible. On the table he will have imminently the report of the pardons of the Supreme Court and the council of ministers will have to get involved. It will also be necessary to reopen the dialogue table. On the other side there will be an executive led this time by ERC, which has made it clear - for the peace of mind of the Spanish Government - that it is not committed to the unilateral route but that it can block the legislature in Madrid now that the Ciudadanos route has been extinguished.

There are no more excuses for the Spanish president if he really wants to avoid early elections before 2023 or even extend them to early 2024, as Mariano Rajoy did in 2015 to try to lower the rise of Unidas Podemos. The ERC spokesman in Parliament, Gabriel Rufián, made it clear just before the agreement for the investiture in Catalonia: "I do not believe in you, but in the historical moment that has touched us all". From La Moncloa they admit that the time has come, but it will always be Sánchez who will have the last word on pardons for political prisoners depending on the political context in which he finds himself. The Minister of Justice, Juan Carlos Campo, has asked this Monday, during an informative lunch of New Economy Forum, to see pardons under a "natural" light, whether they are favourable or not, "total or partial".

In the PSOE they believe it has to be the sooner the better, but first they want to pass the litmus test of the primaries in Andalusia, where Ferraz is trying to finally finish off Susana Díaz. A response from the council of ministers before 13 June to the pardons, even if it is by partially granting them - the scenario most envisaged by the Ministry of Justice - would give ammunition to the former Andalusian president and leader of the PSOE management team during the time that dethroned Sánchez.

The dialogue table

The other piece in play will be the dialogue table, where Miquel Iceta will finally begin to have weight as a minister of this legislature. So far he has had a very low profile. During an interpellation Wednesday with CUP MP Mireia Vehí in Parliament, he again closed the door to amnesty and a referendum on self-determination, but he did invite Aragonès to call Sánchez immediately to specify the next appointment.Iceta's aim is that the agenda of the reunion should result in an agreement that the Catalans will vote for. In La Moncloa they point out that the dialogue will be slow and steep, but any pact would have to try not to interfere in the final stretch of the legislature.

From the opposition, the leader of the PP, Pablo Casado, does nothing but push for an early election. So does Vox. The Spanish right is once again in a hurry and predicts that the legislature is mortally wounded. The final confirmation, for the PP, will be the granting of pardons, and the leader of the opposition has already warned that he is considering appealing to the Supreme Court if there is no "repentance". There will come a time, then, that Sánchez will have to opt for the right or the left in Parliament after months of moving forward, on his own, citing the context of the pandemic. Ciudadanos is no longer a piece that can be counted on and with the arithmetic of the investiture Ferraz believes it will manage to survive.

"So far we have been conditioned by the pandemic, the legislature starts now. We believe we have enough parliamentary support and we won't be eaten up", said on Wednesday the secretary of the PSOE organisation in an act of He paraphrased the mantra that the new leader of Unidas Podemos in the government, Yolanda Diaz, has repeated. It is with the purple party with whom ERC has tried to re-establish alliances in recent days. On the table there is also the repeal of the labou r reform and the gag law - where PSOE is reluctant.

The last pending piece is the promised reform of the crime of sedition in the Penal Code. But La Moncloa has been blurring it and at the moment the hot potato will focus on the response to the pardons. Campo has promised to show his face and explain in detail the reason for the decision, which, according to what the Spanish government has been anticipating, will not coincide with that of the Supreme Court.