It is a stinging setback for the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, and his government, renewed only two and a half months ago. On Tuesday January 30, MPs rejected the amnesty bill for Catalan separatists. Paradoxically, it was the party of the independentist Carles Puigdemont, Junts, which voted against this highly controversial bill, considering that it did not guarantee the application of this amnesty to its leader, the main figure of Catalonia’s attempted secession in 2017.

This rejection at first reading does not mean the abandonment of the text, which will have to return to the parliamentary committee where it can be modified. But it illustrates the permanent pressure to which Junts subjects the executive, deprived of a majority without the support of its seven deputies.

Faced with a result that seemed unexpected until Monday, the Minister of Justice, Félix Bolaños, considered it “incomprehensible that Junts voted against a law that he negotiated”, and asked the Catalan party to “reconsider its position “.

171 votes out of 350

“The humiliation is constant, every day (…), every vote is an ordeal,” mocked the leader of the right-wing opposition, Alberto Nuñez Feijoo, who again mobilized 45,000 supporters in the center of Madrid on Sunday against this amnesty, which deeply divides Spanish society.

Unpredictable ally, Junts demanded on Tuesday morning the vote by Mr. Sanchez’s socialists on amendments intended to counter the judicial offensive by two magistrates seeking to prevent the application of this measure to Carles Puigdemont. The Socialists having refused, Junts voted against the bill which received only 171 votes in favor while the required majority was 176 votes out of 350.

The amnesty “must be total (…) and leave no one on the side of the road, no one,” warned the head of Junts deputies, Miriam Nogueras, before the vote. This amnesty bill was a condition demanded by the Catalan separatists in exchange for their essential support for the mid-November reappointment of Mr. Sanchez for a new term.

Stopping legal proceedings

Junts concretely demanded that the text guarantee the application of this amnesty to people accused of “terrorism”, without possible exception, or of “treason”, which is not the case in the current project, Mr. Puigdemont being threatened with an indictment for such offenses by two magistrates. These two judges were accused by the left of having clear political ulterior motives for having precisely announced on Monday, on the eve of the vote, the extension of their investigation for an additional six months.

If Parliament ultimately adopts it, this text should make it possible to stop legal proceedings against hundreds of separatist activists and leaders for their involvement in the secession attempt, including Mr. Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium there is over six years old in order to escape these prosecutions.