Pedro Sánchez has passed this Tuesday one of the greatest trances of the legislature by granting clemency to the independence leaders imprisoned by the you process. In Moncloa they believe that the climate is better than expected and now await a gesture from the independence movement. “We have taken a step and now it is up to the independence movement,” argue government sources after the grace measure that will mean the immediate release from jail of the nine convicted of sedition. The Executive is also convinced that legality will not be violated again as it happened in 2017, largely due to the legal framework of the pardon files themselves, which are conditional on not committing a serious crime within a period of time. between three and six years, and also to the maintenance of complete disqualifications.
Government reports on pardons: a measure to “respond to the deep social and political crisis”
The reaction of the independentistas – including some of the pardoned prisoners – has been precisely the opposite of what the Government now intends to receive. The President of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, has assured that “It is time for a referendum agreed with international backing”. Sánchez considers that the pardons are a way of turning the page on the situation between Catalonia and the rest of Spain and in the Executive they consider that the prison of the independence leaders was a “dead end” to begin the dialogue. “We believe that it is a first step. It is not the end of the road, it is the beginning so that we can reestablish harmony and coexistence. We want to normalize the institutional and affective relations between Spain and Catalonia”, they argue in the Executive, where they believe that the pardons remove “arguments” and “victimization” from the independentistas.
In addition, the Government maintains that the presence of politicians in prison is a “very exceptional” situation in Western democracies that was not fully understood in the EU. With his release from prison, they consider that an international message is being sent and also that “an impediment to establishing normal affective relationships is eliminated.”
But they want this step towards dialogue to be accompanied by an appropriate response on the part of the Catalan institutions and which means that they abandon their maximalist positions. “The Government takes the initiative, something that has not happened in years. It makes politics with a capital P, puts forward a proposal to the Catalans to rebuild and meet again and wants to end the political tension. We have taken a step and now it is the independence movement” , state government sources.
Abandon maximalist positions
And what do they ask of their interlocutors in the Generalitat? “That they have a dose of reality, pragmatism, viability and within the constitutional order allow us to move forward,” according to the spokeswoman, María Jesús Montero, at the press conference after the Council of Ministers. According to a member of the Government, they have to raise “things that can be assumed, not elements of escapism.”
“Our will is not to suffocate the dialogue before it begins, on the contrary,” continued Montero, who is committed to starting to talk about the reunion agenda that Sánchez proposed in the first meeting of the dialogue table that will be reactivated after his appointment with Aragonès. “We are open to any approach, but proposals that are not viable, that are outside the constitutional framework will be immobile, they will not allow us to move forward,” said Montero, referring to proposals on the referendum for independence. “There is a margin, a way to go. Between what one would like as optimal and what one can reach there are meters that can be covered and that we can travel together and this is what we aspire to,” he summarized.
Although Moncloa’s aspiration is to reach an agreement that satisfies 74% of the Catalan population, which was the percentage that signed the Statute in 2006, they acknowledge that at this time they do not have a concrete proposal to put on the dialogue table. “We have taken a very important step, a gesture that starts the way. The independentists cannot stay on that screen in which they did not listen to the other party and reiterated requests for self-determination or amnesty. They will have to make gestures,” government sources explain .
Montero has also warned that these proposals will have the frontal rejection of the Executive. “If at the table or other environment any protagonist, political party or institution puts on the table a breach of legality, the answer is of the same force: no. This Government is not going to call a referendum for self-determination nor is it going to allow a unilateral declaration of independence, “the spokeswoman concluded. In any case, in Moncloa they are convinced that the independence movement has learned the lesson of the events of 2017. “With this Government in power they will not repeat themselves. This Executive will not allow the legality to be broken as is it did with the unilateral declaration of independence, “he concluded.
The spokeswoman has also been realistic about the difficulties in solving the problem beyond the enthusiastic approach when passing the trance of the measure of grace. “The Government takes a step forward, but the success that the Catalan conflict can be brought to fruition in a short period of time is not guaranteed,” he admitted. In any case, what all the interlocutors consulted agree on is that there has been “unanimity” in the defense of the decision that has taken place in a meeting of the Council of Ministers that has lasted more than four hours, more than initially planned because almost all the members of the cabinet have intervened.
United We can insist on the agreed referendum
All the interventions have been to shore up the decision, including that of the Defense Minister, Margarita Robles, whom the right wing points out as one of the possible critical voices within the Executive. The representatives of United We Can in the Government have not lost the opportunity, in addition, to vindicate themselves given that the option of pardons is the one they defended since the judicialization of the you process. This was done by the third vice president, Yolanda Díaz, who in her speech marked the decision taken as the starting point to open a dialogue and seek a solution. “It is the position that we have always defended,” he said later in a message on Twitter. The also Minister of Labor has presented to the cabinet her certainty that the pardons will mark the political scene of the coming times, according to some present.
The leader of United We Can in the Government has distanced herself, yes, from Sánchez’s position regarding the solution of the political conflict in Catalonia by reiterating another of the theses that her political space has always raised as a solution: the agreed referendum. In fact, in September 2017 Podemos, IU and the confluences summoned public positions from all over the State and from different parties to the Assembly of Zaragoza, where a firm commitment was made to resolve the issue with a consultation with the Catalans in whose writing they were in agreement with the central and regional governments. That meeting was attended by deputies and representatives of the parties that today support the Government, with the exception of the PSOE, for which this is an insurmountable red line.
Finally, Díaz has also asked that the Government have the same “ambition” that it is having with pardons on other issues. Especially on social issues. These days are finishing negotiating some key issues such as the housing law or the path of the SMI for the legislature.