Wednesday, July 6

Pardons weren’t an option

The pardons were inscribed in the results of the 2019 elections. They were not an option, but a necessity. With the composition of the Congress of Deputies, it was not possible to govern without responding to the situation of deprivation of liberty in which the nationalist leaders condemned by the Supreme Court found themselves.

Article 155 of the Constitution was the axis around which the elections revolved. If the three rights won, Article 155 would be applied again and the nationalist leaders who were already deprived of liberty would continue in this situation without being able to wait for any measure of grace. If, on the contrary, the left and the nationalists won, not only would the application of Article 155 again be ruled out, but measures would be surely adopted to alleviate the most painful consequences of the first application of said article. Obviously, the situation of deprivation of liberty of those convicted of the procés was the first that had to be addressed.

The decision of the electoral body was clear. The three rights were unequivocally defeated. With this, the new application of the 155 was discarded and a message was sent that the most harmful consequences of its first application had to be corrected.

The health emergency unleashed by COVID-19 did not allow the Government to deal with the problem immediately after the inauguration, but once the critical phase of the inauguration had passed, the decision could not be delayed. The coalition government could not allow those convicted of the procés to remain in prison any longer.

The decision was only apparently difficult. In practice, it was relatively easy to execute. When there is a clear mandate, it is not difficult to translate it normatively. The processing of pardons is a clear example. The Government had to limit itself to letting the administrative file be processed in the manner provided in the ordinance and making a final decision, which cannot be arbitrary, but is discretionary. Once the procedure was launched, the decision fell under its own weight. Nobody could no longer prevent it, but not even hinder it, since the reports of the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Supreme Court are not binding on the Government.

Legally it was easy to implement. And politically too. The pardons unite the heterogeneous parliamentary majority on which the Government rests, as we are seeing these days and as we will have the opportunity to verify on the 30th, when the president explains the pardons in the Congress of Deputies.

The Spanish rights, on the other hand, are not capable of acting in a cohesive manner, as the development of the demonstration called by Rosa Díez and Fernando Savater in the Plaza de Colón has shown. The reaction to the pardons is being one more step in the process of unraveling of the Spanish right, which will intensify all the more the longer they make pardons the center of their political strategy.