Thousands of Spaniards rallied in Madrid on Sunday against the government’s intentions to pardon 12 Catalan lawmakers jailed in the region’s failed independence bid in 2017, a move seen as a danger to national unity by demonstrators.
In an interview published on Sunday with La Vanguardia newspaper, Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo offered the clearest indication yet that the pardons of Catalan separatists were “near,” although the topic has polarized Spaniards.
According to a study released on Sunday for the online publication niusdiario.es, roughly 63 percent of Spaniards reject the pardons, while approximately 25% support them and approximately 6% are undecided.
“We should stop now because you have to show contrition for a pardon, and the separatists will not do that,” Carlos Bandecha, a 47-year-old businessman, said at the gathering, where many demonstrators brandished red and yellow national flags.
The event in Madrid’s central Plaza Colon drew opposition politicians from the conservative People’s Party (PP), the far-right Vox party, and the centrist Ciudadanos.
When asked when the pardons might be approved by Spain’s center-left government, Calvo told Vanguardia: “They’ll be there soon. We will immediately follow up on them once the Supreme Court report is received. They should be at the cabinet soon.”
Last month, Spain’s Supreme Court issued a non-binding report opposing future government pardons for Catalan separatist leaders.
In October 2019, it condemned nine Catalan separatist leaders to between nine and thirteen years in prison for arranging an unauthorized referendum on independence and declaring a short-lived unilateral declaration of independence on sedition charges.
Three others were found guilty of disobedience but were not sentenced to prison.