HomeWorldMassive Protests Erupt as Catalan Amnesty Deal Sparks Outrage

Massive Protests Erupt as Catalan Amnesty Deal Sparks Outrage

Protesters in Barcelona March Against Potential Amnesty Deal

By Graham Keeley

BARCELONA (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Barcelona on Sunday to demonstrate against a potential amnesty deal that Spain’s Socialists must negotiate in order to form a government. The protest, organized by the anti-separatist organization Societat Civil Catalana, comes just days after Spain’s acting Socialist prime minister was nominated to seek support from other political parties for a new mandate.

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The amnesty deal is a crucial requirement for Pedro Sanchez, who needs the backing of Catalan separatist parties Junts and Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya. In exchange for their votes in parliament, these parties are demanding an amnesty for the leaders involved in Catalonia’s 2017 bid for independence.

Police estimated that 50,000 protesters attended the march, where prominent figures such as Alberto Nunez Feijoo, leader of the opposition conservative People’s Party, and Santiago Abascal, leader of the far-right Vox party, were also present.

The protesters expressed concerns about the potential consequences of an amnesty. Javier Tapia, a 55-year-old chemicals worker, stated, “An amnesty would undermine the judiciary. An amnesty would put the government above democracy and the rule of law.” Another protester, Isabel Martinez, held a sign saying “Spain for Sale” and voiced her opposition to the amnesty, saying, “We cannot allow an amnesty because not all Catalans believe that these separatists should be pardoned. They want to live in conflict forever, but we want to live in peace.”

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Amnesty Could Impact Hundreds

Pedro Sanchez has defended his conciliatory approach towards Catalonia, including a 2021 pardon for nine jailed leaders, arguing that the 2017 crisis “brought nothing good.” However, opponents of the amnesty, like Alberto Nunez Feijoo, argue that it is a political move to secure Sanchez’s position as the president of the government. If approved, the amnesty could potentially benefit over 1,400 people involved in the independence bid, including those currently in jail or facing charges.

If implemented, this amnesty would be the largest in Spain since the 1977 blanket amnesty for crimes committed during the Francisco Franco dictatorship. It would also be the first amnesty law approved in the European Union since 1991, according to Spain’s CSIC research council.

Public Opinion Against Amnesty

A poll conducted in mid-September revealed that around 70% of respondents, including 59% of Socialist supporters, were against the idea of an amnesty. This highlights the significant opposition to the potential deal among the public. If no candidate secures a majority by November 27, a repeat election will be called.

This protest in Barcelona demonstrates the concerns and opposition of many people to the potential amnesty deal. The issue remains divisive, with strong arguments on both sides. As negotiations continue, it will be interesting to see how the government balances the demands for reconciliation with the need to uphold the rule of law.

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