Candidate for Prime Minister/President of the Government of Spain Pedro Sánchez delivers
the speech with which he hopes to convince the Parliament to invest him
with the presidency/Pool Moncloa-Fernando Calvo
MORE TERRITORIAL COHESION AND SOLIDARITY WITH THE AUTONOMOUS COMMUNITIES
“Providing a better life for Spaniards means reducing existing differences between provinces and strengthening territorial cohesion”, said the candidate [for President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez]. The [future] government’s sixth priority is therefore to continue moving towards “the decentralised and polycentric model that our Constitution postulates”. Along these lines, the bulk of European funds will be devoted to creating new industries and opportunities “outside the big capitals”, railway infrastructures will be improved and access to basic public services will be guaranteed for all municipalities within a radius of less than 30 minutes.
Sánchez pledged [regional funding] to promote a new model “that guarantees all territories the necessary resources, based on the principles of equity, financial autonomy and fiscal co-responsibility”. He also advocated continuing along the “path of solidarity” with the autonomous communities of the last legislature, assuming part of their debt.
RECONCILIATION WITH CATALONIA: DIALOGUE, GENEROSITY AND FORGIVENESS
Pedro Sánchez’s seventh priority is to make progress on the agenda of the reconciliation with Catalonia to guarantee a better coexistence in Spain: “We must promote coexistence and forgiveness not only to win a legislature of progress, but also to bet on a future of reconciliation and harmony”.
He said that the progressive coalition government he intends to lead does not share the idea that the [autonomous communities] would be better off seceding from Spain: “We are convinced that a united Spain is a better, more prosperous and stronger Spain”.
To guarantee this unity, Sánchez is opting for the “path of dialogue, understanding and forgiveness”, even if this is a hard task; the alternative [which shuns dialogue in favour] of imposition [would only create] social tension. “We have put negotiation before imposition, reconciliation before revenge; in short, unity before fracture. Where before there was a breach of the Constitution in certain territories, in the last five years, [the Constitution] has been complied with in every aspect”, he pointed out.
The candidate affirmed that there is no surer path to understanding than to re-establish the political bridges that should never have been broken: “This is why we have pardoned the leaders of the ‘procés’*, and why we have supported the use of co-official languages in the Lower House and promoted their use in European institutions”. [Note: apart from Spain’s official language, the Castilian, there are other co-official languages: Catalan, Valencian, Galician, and Basque.]
Sánchez added that the path of understanding is working because coexistence has returned to the streets and dialogue to the institutions, and the majority of citizens and parliamentary groups prefer the Catalonia of 2023 to that of 2017. “Dialogue, generosity and forgiveness have worked and helped to heal wounds,” he said.
LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL AMNESTY
The candidate argued that his government has promoted the amnesty for the people prosecuted in the ‘procés’ because this measure of grace can help to overcome the rift opened in October 2017, to bring positions closer together and to persuade many Catalans that Spain is a good country for them, and that Catalonia is ready for a full reconciliation.
Pedro Sánchez has acknowledged that approval of this measure may or may not be a given among citizens, whose opinion he greatly respects, but it is being adopted “to consolidate the progress achieved in the last four years and to continue advancing along the path of coexistence and progress” and “prevent Spain from going backwards” in terms of rights and freedoms.
The acting president stressed that “the amnesty we are proposing is perfectly legal and in accordance with the Constitution”. He recalled that the measure is not unprecedented; other countries have applied it. Even the governments of the Popular Party [had applied it] when they needed votes to “ensure Spain’s governability. And none of these concessions have weakened Spain, broken our democracy, or led us towards a dictatorship. They turned us into a decentralised state, like many of the most advanced countries in the world”.
“The amnesty will be approved in the light of day. In full transparency. It will be debated in the Lower House. It will have all the legal guarantees, with the majority vote of this democratically elected chamber. It will not be an attack on the Constitution of 78, but quite the contrary, it will be a further demonstration of its strength and its validity”, Sánchez said.
In his view, the amnesty will be to the benefit of political leaders whose ideas he does not share and whose actions he rejects, but it will help hundreds of citizens who were dragged down by the ‘procés’, such as the national police and the ‘mossos d’esquadra’ who suffered the consequences of a political crisis.
LEADERSHIP IN EUROPE
The eighth priority put forward by the candidate for President of the Government of Spain is Europe, where “Spain has taken on an unprecedented international prominence”. Pedro Sánchez recalled that before holding the presidency of the Council of the EU he had already led important debates such as the reform of the electricity market and the Common Agricultural Policy, and now he is a continental point of reference on issues such as strategic autonomy, the green and digital transition, and migration and asylum policies.
He added that in the coming years, the EU will have to forge new ties with the rest of the world, consolidate its technological and scientific leadership at the global level and address challenges such as migration and climate change. In addition, it will have to undertake enlargement towards the Western Balkans, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, and Spain will be among the countries leading these processes. It will analyse the challenges, seek opportunities, propose solutions, defend European values and promote dialogue and respect for plurality on the continent.
The aim, said the acting president, is to improve the lives of Spaniards. “That is the purpose that has guided and will guide the action of the progressive coalition government: to give our citizens a fuller life. A life of certainties, of security, with more and better jobs, more and better public services, more affordable housing, more environmental sustainability, more equality, more territorial cohesion, more coexistence and more Europe”.
Pedro Sánchez promised [that if he is invested president] his new government will work to ensure that Spain, Europe and the international community recognise the Palestinian state. He also said he would continue to support Ukraine “until the last Russian soldier leaves a country that wants to be free and European”.
After a recess, the investiture session continues today and tomorrow with the representatives of the parliamentary groups taking the floor. At the end of the debate, the first vote will be held, in which the candidate needs the support of an absolute majority of the plenary of Congress (176 deputies) to be elected president of the government.
If this is not achieved, a second ballot will be held 48 hours after the first, in which the candidate will be sworn in if he achieves a simple majority, i.e. more votes in favour than against.
Non official translation from the original text in Spanish
*The procés was a series of social and political events in the autonomous community of Catalonia between 2012 and 2022 with a view to self-determination and independence from Spain. It culminated in the illegal organization and celebration of the 2017 Catalan independence referendum, the passing of laws to override the Constitution of Spain and Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia, and the Catalan declaration of independence on 27 October 2017. Nine of the 12 leaders of these acts, who are the most important and controversial object of Sanshez’s amnesty, have received prison terms ranging from 9 to 13 years for the crimes of sedition, four of whom were also found guilty of misuse of public funds. The remaining three accused were found guilty of disobedience and were sentenced to pay a fine but received no prison penalty. See Wikipedia here, here and here .
However, in June 2021 the government of Pedro Sanchez pardoned the imprisoned separatist leaders. This pardon (indulto) is not the same as the amnesty that Sánchez negotiated with the separatist political parties in order to gain their support for his investiture as President of the Government/Prime Minister. Pardon is an act of forgiveness by the Head of the Government. It exempts someone from punishment for a crime, an oversight of punishment that could be revoked upon the recommendation of the judiciary but subject to the approval of the Head of the Government. Amnesty is the dismissal of criminal proceedings granted under the law. More than just a pardon, it obliterates all legal remembrance of the offense.
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