Last year, in exchange for parliamentary support, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez accepted the law allowing him to form a left-wing minority government.
Catalan separatist MPs voted against an amnesty bill due to disagreements over its scope between the ruling Socialists and a Catalan separatist party, dealing a blow to Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s government.
The bill, which was rejected Tuesday by 179 votes to 171, will be referred to a parliamentary committee for debate and could potentially be sent back for another vote in the lower house.
Last year, in exchange for parliamentary support from two small Catalan separatist parties, Sánchez agreed to present the bill.
But the Catalan Juntas voted against the bill after failing to reach a last-minute agreement with Sanchez’s Socialist Workers’ Party.
The Junts wanted all “terrorism” exceptions removed from the bill, as some of the party’s politicians are currently under judicial investigation for alleged charges.
The party has been pushing for Carles Puigdemont, its former leader, to return home after currently living in Belgium as a fugitive.
Spain’s Supreme Court is prosecuting Puigdemont for disobedience and embezzlement, and two lower courts are investigating him and others for possible “terrorism” charges.
“We will continue to negotiate with a margin of 15 more days… There is no reason to approve an amnesty law with loopholes,” said Junts member Miriam Nogueras.
She added that the Socialists had warned them that the proposed amendments “could mean the amnesty law would run into problems in Europe”, but she said they were prepared for that.
Socialist Justice Minister Felix Bolanos told reporters that it was “absolutely incomprehensible that Junts would vote against a law he had agreed to” and that he would do so with right-wing parties who want to see them imprisoned.
The amnesty plan is controversial in Spain, with strong criticism from conservative and far-right opposition parties representing around half the country’s population.
Many members of the judiciary and police are also opposed to the bill, including several figures in Sanchez’s party.
Even if the bill had passed, it would still have to pass through the Senate, where the main conservative opposition, the People’s Party, has an absolute majority and has pledged to block the bill and challenge it before courts.