Spain’s right-wing parties start battle against Catalan political prisoners’ pardon

Pedro Sánchez’s government faces growing pressure from opposition over possible release of pro-independence politicians

Pablo Casado (PP)
VilaWeb / Catalan News Agency
28.05.2021 - 13:39
Actualització: 28.05.2021 - 15:38

As the Spanish government continues to consider granting pardons to Catalonia’s political prisoners, even without any concretion, right-wing opposition parties prepare for a legal and political battle to prevent the measure and even overpower the executive.

The Spanish congress’ plenary session on Wednesday offered a hint of what is to come if president Pedro Sánchez nullifies the sedition convictions and sets the imprisoned politicians and activists free. “[Mr Sánchez], you prefer to put Spain’s constitutional order at risk in exchange for remaining in power,” said Pablo Casado, leader of the main opposition group in the chamber, the conservative People’s Party.

With Sánchez first coming into power in Madrid with the support from pro-independence parties, and being reelected thanks to an abstention from Catalonia’s ruling Esquerra Republicana party, right-wing groups have often accused them of having “secret dealings,” presenting pardons as a possible pay off for helping appoint Sánchez president. Sánchez has repeatedly denied such accusations, saying that his government would make the same decision even if they had an absolute majority of 300 MPs and did not rely on the support coming from Catalan independence parties.

Punishment and conchord

“There’s a time for punishment and a time for conchord,” Sánchez told Casado, regretting the fact that the conservative leader fails to support “the state”, especially since the Socialist party backed PP during the 2017 independence push, when a police operation to stop an unauthorized referendum left hundreds of voters injured.

While PP’s political relevance in Catalonia is extremely limited (in the last election it remained the smallest party in Parliament), the conservative party has often put Catalonia at the center of the political debate across Spain, famously challenging a new Statute of Autonomy backed by most Catalans, which led to a Constitutional Court ruling that kickstarted the push for independence.

People’s Party officials announced on Thursday that the group would file motions in all town councils in Spain to symbolically reject the jailed leaders’ pardons, as a means to force local officials of Sánchez’s Socialist party to take sides on the issue and risk political backlash from their electorate.

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