A meeting in Switzerland put the pact launched by the legislature on track | Spain

Above the legal negotiation on the amnesty law, which was very complicated to close, there was an underlying political decision. Junts had to clarify if it wanted to burst the legislature by forcing the machine with the law beyond where the PSOE could reach. The socialists had set a final red line, after crossing others: under no circumstances could they accept that the amnesty included all types and degrees of terrorism, because that, according to their legal interpretation, could lead to European justice overturning the rule. With that question in the air, and in the midst of the scandal of Koldo case, on Friday, February 23, two days after the arrest of the former collaborator of former minister José Luis Ábalos, the main negotiators of Junts —Carles Puigdemont, Jordi Turull, Miriam Nogueras— and the representatives of the PSOE —Santos—met in Geneva (Switzerland). Cerdán, Juan Francisco Serrano and Eladio Garzón. The verifier, Francisco Galindo, did not come on this occasion because he was sick, although he was scheduled to go.

This time the meeting did not transcend. The PSOE and Junts have changed the way of negotiating. They have decided that they will do things ahead of time, to avoid the anguish that the Government experienced at the start of the year, with the first decrees, agreed literally at the last minute before the vote. And they have also agreed that there will be real discretion, without cameras chasing politicians in Geneva. The meetings, which have to be held outside of Spain because Puigdemont cannot return without risking immediate arrest, at least until the amnesty is approved, remain at their planned frequency, once a month, but he no longer realizes they.

This one was particularly important. Both sides needed to know how far the other could go. Junts wanted to know if there was room for any modification of the law, also in the crime of terrorism, that would serve as a landing for a change of position, from no to yes. And the PSOE needed to be sure that Junts was serious and was not willing to blow up the legislature by pushing the limit with the impossible position, which they maintained in January, that all types of terrorism had to be included in the negotiation.

The meeting reassured both sectors. They talked about everything, not only amnesty, but also Budgets, but at the political level, without papers. From there came a message that both parties interpreted in the same way: no one wanted to break up, there was a will to reach an agreement, to move forward with the amnesty and then the Budgets. Junts had not gone all the way to Pedro Sánchez’s investiture, which cost him a lot of effort, to blow up the legislature before it began and be left without an amnesty law. And the PSOE had not accepted the amnesty, which also cost them a lot, to now stay halfway and live through a hellish legislature, with a zombie government without a majority. He Koldo caseFurthermore, he pressured the Executive with the urgency of giving a strong message: consolidating the legislature and dispelling the feeling, which the opposition was trying to establish, that Pedro Sánchez’s Government was on the verge of collapse.

From there the real negotiation began, with Félix Bolaños and his legal team at the helm to find a way out that could serve as a landing spot for Junts, but that would not put the constitutionality of the law at risk. There were videoconferences between the PSOE and Junts on a daily basis, wherever the interlocutors were. Jordi Turull, who suffered a heart attack in the midst of negotiations, rejoined those video conferences a few days after being given two stents in two arteries that were blocked. He was risking everything there, and this key Junts man did not miss it.

Bolaños kept ERC informed at all times, with Josep María Jové as his main contact. The socialists managed to get Junts and ERC, who had already been together for the first time in a video conference with Bolaños in January, when the previous modification of the law was closed, to finally speak among themselves and agree on a common position, despite their enormous distrust. mutual. While Spanish politics was pending Koldo casethe first major scandal of alleged corruption in the Government of Pedro Sánchez, the negotiators did not stop looking for a way out.

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When they were already quite advanced, unexpected help arrived: the Venice Commission, which the PP had summoned to Madrid to try to overturn the amnesty law, had some important problems – the emergency procedure, the lack of consensus — but in general it was very positive for the interests of the Government and supported some of its fundamental legal and political arguments: it said that the division of powers was respected because the judges have the final say and that the search for reconciliation — which the PSOE as a justification of the law—is a legitimate objective of amnesties. The PP, according to the Government’s interpretation, thus lost a great asset of legal and political arguments.

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Bolaños immediately wielded that draft report and used it to his advantage in the negotiation: some issues were incorporated at the last minute, such as ending the crime of embezzlement to leave out personal enrichment, and thus the PP’s decision became a boomerang. . Pedro Sánchez himself, on tour in Brazil and Chile, assumed that changes would finally be made to the crime of terrorism, contrary to what the socialists had said, but limited: the reference to the Penal Code was eliminated to refer only to European directive on terrorism, and the crime of treason was also incorporated into the amnesty as long as there is no armed uprising; an ideal solution for Junts but that does not put the law at risk, according to the socialist interpretation, neither before the European justice system nor before the Constitutional Court.

ERC endorsed the agreement and everyone in the majority, not just in the Government, breathed easy: the legislature seems saved, although it will undoubtedly be full of difficulties and will become much more complicated when the Catalan elections, scheduled for February 2025, approach. The analysis that has spread in the Government is that the real legislature begins now, and that is why Sánchez boasted from Santiago, Chile: “It is going to take a long time for the opposition, but, regardless of who it may be, we are going to have another four years of progressive Government, because that is what the people voted for.”

Junts and ERC do not take their support for the Budgets for granted. There have already been many tentative meetings about them, but the real negotiation begins now. And Junts is already talking about a fiscal pact, a very delicate issue for the PSOE, which will not be able to go that far. Those of Puigdemont above all make one idea clear: the amnesty was in exchange for the investiture, the Budget negotiation starts from scratch. This week will be decisive, various sources point out, because we will talk about the timing and scope of the Budget negotiation. It will not be easy, nothing will be in this legislature, and the shadow of Koldo case It is far from disappearing. But the socialists believe that Junts and ERC have made a fundamental commitment to the continuity of the legislature, and that negotiations can be negotiated on that political basis.

Meanwhile, from Junts they point out that progress can be made in the consolidation of the legislature as long as progress is also made in what really interests them: the two discreet tables that have been launched in Switzerland, one on economic and transfer issues and another on the much more delicate territorial issue, with the referendum in the background. The socialists insist that there is no room for a self-determination referendum, not even non-binding through article 92 of the Constitution, and this was written in the agreement of the PSOE and Junts for the investiture, in November, where those positions were reflected. far away. This question weighs on the legislature at all times like a sword of Damocles, and that is why no one is deceived; Everyone knows that these four years will be more politically complicated than the previous ones and there will always be the risk of the majority breaking up.

But Sánchez, who insists that nothing can be worse than what happened to him four years ago, when in the first 100 days of the coalition he had the worst pandemic in a century and, when he was beginning to overcome it, the war in Ukraine and its economic consequences, he appears calm. He clings not only to his resistance but to the incentives that all the members of the majority have to avoid the fall of the Government and the arrival of the PP and Vox to convince himself that he is facing a long legislature and will be able to develop the program that he agreed to with Yolanda Diaz. At the moment, he already has the key to the legislature’s vault in his hand: the amnesty. And in a few weeks it will be known if he also has the Budgets. Once again, betting on the imminent fall of the PSOE leader seems very risky. He is convinced that he will finish his four-year term.

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