20th June 2024
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Right-wing and far-right politicians join thousands in anti-amnesty rally in Barcelona

Right-wing and far-right politicians in Spain joined a mass rally in Barcelona on Sunday to protest plans to grant Catalan pro-independence activists and politicians an amnesty in exchange for their political support for a new left-wing government to be led by acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

Thousands of people, many waving Spanish and Catalan flags or signs saying ‘No Amnesty!’, flooded into the city centre for the rally officially organised by the Societat Civil Catalana (SCC), a civil society group opposed to the region breaking away from Spain. 

The march down Barcelona’s main Passeig de Gràcia was held under the slogan of ‘No En Mi Nombre’ – ‘Not in my name. No amnesty, no self-determination’. 

The protest was called over Sánchez’s plan to offer an amnesty to Catalan separatists facing legal action over the 2017 independence bid in exchange for their support so he can resume his role as premier, which has been up in the air since Spain’s inconclusive summer election. ALSO READ: King Felipe instructs Pedro Sánchez to try and form a government.

The proposal has drawn a furious response from the right and the far-right in Spain, as well as from some within Sánchez’s own PSOE socialist party, who say an amnesty cannot be used as a bargaining chip for him to remain in power.

Sánchez was also the target of the crowd’s ire on Sunday, with placards calling him a traitor to Spain for collaborating with the pro-independence parties.

‘Offering an amnesty in exchange for political favours’ is an ‘unconstitutional aberration’, SCC leader Elda Mata said, adding that she hoped the mass show of opposition would put the brakes on Sánchez’s plans.

Barcelona’s Guàrdia Urbana police said more than 50,000 people had joined the rally, while organisers gave a figure of 300,000. The march set off at 12 noon and speakers addressed the crowd at the end, from 1pm near Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes.

Right-wing politicians were prominent at the march including opposition leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo, whose People’s Party (PP) won the July election but did not have the backing to form a government, despite an alliance with the far-right Vox, whose leader Santiago Abascal also attended the rally. ALSO READ: After Feijóo fails in his bid to become Spain’s prime minister, what happens next?

‘This is not an amnesty that seeks reconciliation, it is exclusively aimed at getting into the prime minister’s office,’ Feijóo said ahead of the march.

‘It’s unacceptable that politicians should break the law, some to reach the prime minister’s office despite losing the election, and others to settle their debt with the law. This an abuse of power which is unbecoming of a democracy,’ he said.

Feijóo’s PP party had organised a similar rally in Madrid on Sunday 24 September, just before his failed investiture vote. ALSO READ: Rally against Catalan amnesty, ahead of Feijóo facing ‘doomed’ investiture vote.

Abascal denounced the amnesty plan on Sunday as ‘an assault on the Constitution’, accusing Sánchez of carrying out ‘real abuses’ in order to stay in power.

The rally was also attended by the PP’s Isabel Díaz Ayuso, the president of the Madrid region, along with almost all of her cabinet. 

Sánchez’s PSOE party came second in July’s election and to be reinstated as premier he must pass a key parliamentary vote for which he needs the backing of seven MPs from the Junts per Catalunya (JxCat) party -led by exiled former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, still sought by Spanish justice, and who has demanded the amnesty. ALSO READ: Puigdemont demands ‘amnesty’ for all independence activists as ‘precondition’ for Sánchez’s investiture.

The crowd gathered outside Gaudí’s Casa Milà building ahead of the march, chanting ‘Puigdemont to prison’, ‘Catalonia is Spain’, and ‘Viva España’.

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