Defeat In Parl't On Catalan Vote Raises Red Flags For Sanchez Gov't
The Spanish gov't suffered a damaging defeat in the Congress of Deputies on 30 Jan after the hard-line Catalan separatist Junts per Catalunya (Junts, Together) voted against legislation intended to bring around an amnesty for those involved in the illegal Oct 2017 Catalan independence referendum. While the legislation was a key demand for Junts supporting the re-election of Pedro Sanchez as PM, the party argued that the proposed law did not go far enough. It argued that all cases related to the secession attempt were included in the amenesty, even those related to terrorism.
- The Sanchez gov't and Junts have two weeks to come to an agreement on amended legislation and get it through. Sanchez risks aggravating his own centre-left Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE), with many disinclined to offer more concessions to separatist parties.
- As Bloomberg notes, "An outright collapse of the government is unlikely given Spanish parliamentary rules, under which a prime minister can only be removed if their opponents can rally behind an alternative government." The alternative gov't is one involving parties of the right, even more staunchly opposed to Catalan independence, making Sanchez's replacement a difficult prospect.
- Nevertheless, the gov't could find itself unable to pass legislation if Junts refuses to cooperate (its seven votes are crucial for maintaining a majority). This in turn could eventually force the gov't into early elections, risking further political paralysis.