Spain's Socialist Party has struck a deal with a fringe Catalan separatist party to grant an amnesty for people involved in the region's failed secession bid, sparking a protest outside the party's headquarters.
The investiture debate and vote to reelect acting Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez will take place later this week, Spain’s Parliament speaker said Monday.
Speaker Francina Armengol said Sanchez's candidacy would be discussed by party leaders on Wednesday and the vote would take place after the debate on Thursday.
Sánchez, who has been in office since 2018, is expected to be voted in with no problems given that his Socialist party has reached deals with a bunch of small parties to ensure he has the backing of 179 legislators, three more than the 176 majority required in Parliament in a first vote.
Spain's 23 July inconclusive elections left all parties without a clear path to form government.
The conservative People's Party, under Alberto Núñez Feijóo, won the most seats in the election, 137. But because of its close ties with the extreme right Vox party, almost no other party backed Feijóo's investiture bid in September.
Sánchez's Socialists won 121 parliamentary seats in the 350-seat Parliament.
The deals signed so far mean the Socialists and their leftist coalition partner Sumar, which won 31 seats, can count on 27 seats from six smaller parties for the investiture vote. But it remains to be seen if the group will stay intact for the entire four-year parliamentary term.
The deal that has caused the most furore was with a fringe Catalan separatist party - led by fugitive former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont - promising the support of its seven parliament members in exchange for an amnesty for potentially thousands of people involved in the region’s failed secession bid in 2017.
The proposal has triggered protests called for by right-wing opposition parties, with some outside the offices of the Socialist Party ending in clashes with police.
Details of the amnesty bill are yet to be released but it stands to benefit Puigdemont and scores of others, from minor government officials to ordinary citizens, who ran into legal trouble for their roles in Catalonia’s illegal secession attempt that brought Spain to the brink of rupture six years ago.
Spain’s courts are still trying to have Puigdemont extradited from Belgium. Given that many consider him an enemy of the state, a deal that benefits him is bound to be politically controversial.
The amnesty proposal has also roused discontent among the judiciary and police unions.
Sánchez, who formerly opposed an amnesty, insists that it is now needed for normal political life to return to Catalonia and will benefit Spain. Most of the parties backing him agree.