Leaving sedition behind


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SPAIN’S government, headed by Pedro Sanchez, intends to eliminate sedition from the country’s Penal Code.

Instead it will be redefined as “aggravated public disorder” carrying a maximum sentence of between five and 15 years.

We all know about sedition: think Guy Fawkes. Nevertheless, more than five centuries later sedition earned prison terms of between nine and 13 years for the men and women responsible for declaring Cataluña’s extremely short-lived republic on October 27 in 2017.

That it was a farce doomed to end in tears was obvious from the shell-shocked faces of the regional president, Carles Puigmont and vice-president Oriol Junqueras. The independent republic never did get off the ground, and Puigdemont made a run for it a couple of days later, self-exiling himself in Waterloo (Belgium), of all places.

Junqueras and eight others who remained received prison sentences of between nine and 13 years.

They were pardoned in June 2021, a move not to everybody’s liking, especially the Partido Popular and Vox. As opposition parties, they oppose on principle any legislation not their own, but their mistrust of eradicating sedition is ideological and visceral.

Sanchez has insisted that with or without sedition, his government is no more receptive to Catalan independence than previously, but did say that he hoped this would herald dialogue and understanding.

That won’t be out of the question with Pere Aragones, Cataluña’s regional president whose party, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (Republican Left of Cataluña), is less radical than it sounds and has eased up on independence demands.

The same can’t be said of Junts per Catalunya (Together for Cataluña), remotely controlled from Waterloo by Carles Puigdemont.

Will he return to Spain to face the music once he can’t be accused of sedition but will still face gaol? Probably not. He dismissed the modification as a publicity stunt, doubtless because he prefers a comfy billet bankrolled by wealthy separatists. Even if it’s called Waterloo.

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