Spain's PM Sanchez announces pardons for jailed Catalan separatist leaders

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez delivers a statement as he announces pardons for jailed Catalan separatist leaders

23-06-2021JUAN MEDINA

A brave move by Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, which will make him few friends for those on the right of Spanish politics but I do believe that an injustice has been righted. Sanchez pardoned all nine Catalan separatist leaders jailed for their role in a failed independence bid in the region in 2017. Former Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, had taken a tough line with Catalonia and its push for self-rule. He sent thousands of additional police to the region and the ringleaders were arrested and sent to jail. It was a radical move which ultimately cost him his job, with Rajoy being ousted by Sanchez.

Sanchez has taken a more measured approach and his pardon will be dismissed by many as being too soft. But it could very well lead to a successful outcome in Catalonia where the population is split over a possible breakaway from Spain. The Spanish government will not allow a referendum on independence but it could offer the Catalan regional government, which backs independence, more home rule.

This could be the way forward to resolve a major dispute which has dogged Spain for more than a decade. His softly, softly approach will be welcomed in Catalonia but the Prime Minister could lose support in the rest of the country.

Politicians from the Spanish Socialist Party have been quick to say that this could lead to a lasting settlement but for the right-wing opposition parties it has been like a red rag to a bull. A bold move by the PM.

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