Spain to Pardon 9 Catalans Jailed Over Illegal 2017 Referendum

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Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said he plans pardons for nine Catalan separatists who were jailed for their role in the illegal independence referendum of 2017.

Speaking to an audience of civic leaders in the Catalan capital, Barcelona, Sanchez, 49, said he’ll recommend that his cabinet approves the pardons when it meets on Tuesday.

“In the next few days, Spanish democracy will take a huge step toward reconciliation,” Sanchez said, to shouts from hall. “It is from here that we have to start on the path to rebuilding our ability to live together.”

The move is a high-stakes gamble for Sanchez, who is aiming to move past the rancor and gridlock which followed the Catalan crisis. But before that happens though, he knows he’ll face a ferocious backlash from conservatives who are opposed to any kind of reconciliation with the separatists.

Catalonia’s failed attempt to break away from Spain marked a watershed for the country’s politics. Within a year, Sanchez had toppled the conservative government of Mariano Rajoy through a no-confidence vote but the Socialist-led administrations that followed have been plagued by instability and political fragmentation.

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  • In This Story: Spain

    Spain, a country on Europe’s Iberian Peninsula, includes 17 autonomous regions with diverse geography and cultures. Capital city Madrid is home to the Royal Palace and Prado museum, housing works by European masters. Segovia has a medieval castle (the Alcázar) and an intact Roman aqueduct. Catalonia’s capital, Barcelona, is defined by Antoni Gaudí’s whimsical modernist landmarks like the Sagrada Família church. 

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