Anti-independence protesters gather in Madrid opposing Spain’s pledge to open talks with Catalan separatists
Madrid’s Colon Square was a sea of Spanish flags today as forty-five thousand protesters gathered to protest the Spanish government’s plan to pursue intermediated talks with Catalan separatists.
The protests were led by right-wing groups Popular Party, Ciudadanos and far-right Vox. They call for elections: “For a united Spain. Elections now!”, likening the Spanish government’s plans to appoint an intermediary for talks with Catalan to treason. The crowds were heard today chanting: “long live Spain”
El tiempo de gobierno de Sánchez ha acabado. #UnidosPorEspaña empieza la reconquista del corazón de los españoles que serenamente han dicho basta a cualquier tipo de fractura. Comienza un tiempo de esperanza para recuperar la concordia, la libertad y la legalidad en nuestro país. pic.twitter.com/6PC2StfaM8
— Pablo Casado Blanco (@pablocasado_) February 10, 2019
The president of right-wing party Partido Popular, Pablo Casado Blanco, tweeted a video from a balcony overlooking a crowd of protesters, captioned:
“The time of Sánchez’s government is over. #UnidosPorEspaña begins the reconquest of the heart of the Spaniards who have serenely said enough to any type of fracture. A time of hope begins to recover harmony, freedom and legality in our country.”
One protester, Mabel Campuzano, told Reuters news agency that Mr Sánchez was “betraying Spain and we think that Spaniards don’t deserve him as the president of the government”
Prime Minister Petro Sánchez of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party claimed his party had always been on the side of dialogue, and instead blamed the failures of his predecessor, the People Party’s Mariano Rojay, who oversaw the Catalan constitutional crisis last year which saw Catalonia declare independence – although unsuccessfully.
Sáchez replaced the People Party’s government after a vote of no-confidence was lost by Mr Rojay following one of the largest political corruption scandals in recent Spanish history plaguing his party.
Though, Sáchez leads a minority government, and requires the support of other parties to pass votes through the Legislature – including Catalan parliamentarians. His party only holds a quarter of the seats in parliament.
The protest takes place two days before the start of the trial of 12 Catalan independence leaders. They face up to 25 years in prison on charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds for their role in a failed secession bid from Spain they are accused of spearheading in 2017.