Mass demonstrations took place in Madrid again on Saturday, against the proposal of the Spanish government – led by the recently re-elected Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez – to grant amnesty to Catalan politicians and activists. ALSO READ: Pedro Sánchez re-elected as Spanish Prime Minister.
Tens of thousands of Spaniards took to the streets to protest the controversial amnesty deal that was key for Sánchez’s PSOE socialist party to retain power, in a coalition with the left-wing alliance of Sumar. ALSO READ: Sánchez defends Catalan amnesty deal ahead of vote to form new government.
Around 170,000 people, according to the police, gathered in the central Plaza Cibeles, in response to a call by the right-wing and far-right leaders to protest.
Cries of ‘Sánchez, traitor’, ‘Sánchez in jail’ and ‘Catalonia is Spain’ could be heard from protesters of all ages who carried Spanish and European flags.
Alberto Núñez Feijóo, leader of the right-wing People’s Party (PP), and Santiago Abascal, leader of the far-right Vox party, also attended the march which was organised by civil groups.
After the rally, scores of protesters walked along the side of a motorway towards the Moncloa Palace, the prime minister’s residence in Madrid.
Sánchez, in power since 2018, came second in the July general election behind the PP’s Feijóo, but managed to be reinstated after negotiating support from regionalist groups including Catalan pro-independence parties. He 179 votes in the 350-seat Spanish Congress on Thursday.
In exchange for the 14 votes from the two Catalan pro-independence parties, Esquerra Republicana (ERC) and Junts per Catalunya (JxCat), both with 7 seats each, Sánchez accepted several concessions including the adoption of the controversial amnesty bill for Catalan leaders and activists who have faced or are still facing legal action for their actvities related to Catalan independence between 1 January 2012 and 13 November 2023. ALSO READ: The PSOE and Junts sign a pact that will guarantee investiture of Pedro Sánchez.
On Saturday in Madrid, the crowd gathered around midday and dispersed peacefully after speeches were made.
Protesters, including neo-Nazi groups, have held rowdy demonstrations in front of the PSOE headquarters in Madrid for 15 nights consecutively since the amnesty deal was announced. Some of the protests there, in the Calle Ferraz, have ended with clashes with police and dozens of arrests, but in general the protests have been peaceful. ALSO READ: Feijóo vows to continue protests against amnesty ‘until there are new elections’.
In a survey by Metroscopia in mid-September, around 70% of respondents – 59% of them socialist supporters – said they were against the idea of an amnesty. ALSO READ: Amnesty bill registered in Spanish Congress – full details.
Pedro Sánchez y sus socios no tienen la razón ni el respaldo de los españoles para la amnistía ni la ruptura.— Alberto Núñez Feijóo (@NunezFeijoo) November 18, 2023
Seguiremos denunciando este atropello porque las alertas de la democracia están encendidas.