Spain’s right-wing and far-right are preparing a legal and propaganda battle against a decision by the Spanish government to grant pardons for jailed Catalan leaders over the 2017 push for independence. Such a pardon would serve the Spanish executive by improving the international image of Spain, as well as to help perpetuate it in power, but it would not resolve the ongoing crisis, which requires amnesty and self-determination.
The right-wing PP and the far-right Vox have announced that they will take the pardons to the Spanish Supreme Court when they are granted. In parallel, PP will also collect signatures and file motions in all town councils across the country to symbolically reject the pardons. Both measures were already used by the right-wing against the Statue of Autonomy of Catalonia in 2006. This statue was backed by most Catalans and Spain’s Congress, but was partially nullified after PP took it to the Constitutional Court. This began Catalonia’s latest push for independence.
This time, the Supreme Court has also aligned with the right-wing, ruling that there are no arguments for the public utility for the government to grant pardons, which have been described as “self-pardons,” given that the beneficiaries would be members of parties that currently support Spain’s coalition government (PSOE-UP), who in turn are the ones who have to decide on the pardons. Most judges of the Supreme Court were appointed by past conservative administrations.
The Government’s Stability
The pardons would threaten the stability of the government of Spain’s PM Sánchez. However, he doesn’t have any other option since he still needs the support of pro-independence forces to keep in power.
Sánchez’s position within his on party, PSOE, is also at stakes. A number of well-known leaders have aligned with the right-wing and far-right against the pardons. Former PM Felipe González and the territorial leaders Guillermo Fernández Vara, in Extremadura, and Emiliano García Paje, in Castilla-La Mancha, have publicly opposed the measure and threaten Sanchez’s stability. They have all often embraced far-right stances against Catalonia, which has often given them good results in past elections.
A group of members of the party has also submitted a letter to the Commission of Guarantees asking it to ensure compliance with the party’s statutes and try to prevent the Spanish government from pardoning political prisoners without first consulting the party members. They threaten to take legal action if their demands are not met.
With the help of the Supreme Court, the Spanish nationalists are repeating the same mistakes that led to the rise of the independence movement with the Statute, which is still ongoing. Pedro Sánchez will have to decide what answer he wants to give now to the Catalan issue and what alliances he wants to embrace in the coming years.
As for the right-wing and far-right, their strategy of misinformation, hatred, and confrontation is likely to bear results. According to recent polls, they could win the next Spanish election with the possibility of getting an absolute majority.