Carles Puigdemont. EFE
Time for intervention

Time for intervention

The bargain made with Carles Puigdemont is craven, cynical and destructive, not only of public trust in politicians, but also of Spain's Constitutional framework

Mark Nayler


Friday, 17 November 2023, 14:54


Several English-language media outlets (thankfully not including this one) ran an AFP story this week with the irritating headline: "Spain's 'Mr Handsome' Is A Risk-Taker With A Flair For Survival". I'm surely not alone in being fed up with such fawning references to Pedro Sánchez. 'Political Houdini' is another popular - and equally annoying - nickname for Spain's acting prime minister.

On the day of writing (Thursday), it's almost certain that the power-crazed PSOE leader will take the top office again, despite the fact that Spain has not voted for four more years of the Sánchez Show. It's hard to believe, as one watches him unilaterally make a decision that prevents the proper functioning of the judiciary, from which the legislative branch of government is meant to be entirely separate, that his party even didn't come first in the last general election. It should not be introducing any new legislation at all in its acting capacity.

Headlines such as the one offered by AFP this week imply that the PSOE leader is brave and astute. But in forging an amnesty deal with Catalan separatists in order to return to power, Sánchez has shown himself to be neither of those things: the bargain made with Carles Puigdemont is craven, cynical and destructive, not only of public trust in politicians, but also of Spain's Constitutional framework. For this reason, the Popular Party (PP) was right this week to request intervention from the EU.

As Esteban Gonzalez Pons, spokesperson for the European PP, pointed out, Brussels has entered into members' domestic matters before when it believes that there is a threat to the rule of law. Pons highlighted the case of Romania in 2019, when Liviu Dragnea, the leader of the ruling Social Democratic Party, attempted to pass a decree that would have granted amnesties to politicians accused of corruption (Dragnea himself would have been amongst the beneficiaries). After the EU Commission warned against the proposed reforms, a referendum was held in May that year, in which 86% of Romanians opposed them.

A recent poll by Metroscopia revealed that 70% of Spaniards (including 59% who voted for the PSOE in July) are against Sánchez's amnesty deal, which affects not just Catalonia but the whole of Spain. Yet they have not been consulted about it.

It must be remembered that the amnesty law implicitly says that the Spanish judiciary's reaction to the failed Catalan secession push of 2017 was wrong, and that no-one involved in it behaved unconstitutionally, which seems obviously false - but in any case, that's a matter for the courts, not the government, to decide.

If the EU believed that intervention in Romania was justified back in 2019, it has no reason not to intervene in Spain now.

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