Sign up for GZERO's daily newsletter

{{ subpage.title }}

A protester holds a portrait of former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont during a protest in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.

REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

What We're Watching: Catalan separatist off the hook, Biden's special counsel, Oz-PNG deal, Czech election, nukes for South Korea?

Spanish justice gives up on Catalan fugitive

After trying for more than five years to bring fugitive ex-Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont to trial for sedition, on Thursday a Spanish judge threw in the towel and dropped the charge. Why? The left-wing government of PM Pedro Sánchez has watered down the crime of sedition so much that it no longer covers what Puigdemont did in Oct. 2017: declare Catalonia an independent republic before skipping town when he was about to get arrested. And why did Sánchez tweak the law? Because he needs the votes of Catalan separatist parties in the national parliament to stay in power (which also explains why he pardoned the other politicians who tried to secede along with Puigdemont.) The judge's decision has big political implications in an election year. On the one hand, it's vindication for the Catalan independence movement, which has been losing steam since its failed secession bid. But on the other, it's a poison pill for Sánchez, whom the the Spanish right has long accused of pandering to Catalan separatists. The PM will get a sense of what Spanish voters think of his Catalonia policy in local and regional elections in late May, a dress rehearsal for a general vote in December.

Read more Show less

People wave separatist Catalan flags and placards during a demonstration following the imprisonment of Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart in Barcelona, Spain.

REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado

Why is Spain pardoning Catalan leaders jailed for sedition?

On Tuesday, Spain's leftwing coalition government will pardon nine Catalan politicians jailed over their failed attempt to secede from the rest of the country less than four years ago. It's a huge gamble for Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who's fighting for his political survival against a majority of popular opinion, an opposition on the rise, the courts, and even part of the Catalan independence movement.

Read more Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

Latest