Spain’s conservatives are storming against the amnesty for Catalan separatists. The socialist Sánchez promised this in order to secure his re-election. A risky bet.
In nationwide demonstrations in Spain on Sunday, more than a hundred thousand people demonstrated against the planned amnesty for Catalan separatists. Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of the socialist PSOE had promised this to two Catalan separatist parties in order to secure support for his re-election for another four years in office, probably this week. Participants in the largest rally in Madrid carried signs with slogans such as “No to amnesty, yes to the constitution” and “Sánchez traitor”, as shown on state TV channel RTVE.
Spokesmen for the largest opposition party, the conservative People’s Party PP, warned of a threat to democracy in Spain. PP leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo said the protests would continue until there was a new election. Isabel Díaz Ayuso, the influential PP head of government for the Madrid region, even spoke of a “dictatorship through the back door”. The organizers put the number of participants in Madrid alone at 500,000, the government spoke of 80,000. There was initially no information available for the entire country.
Change of direction in criticism
Conservatives generally view concessions to separatists with skepticism, while the right-wing populist Vox wants to ban such parties directly. But some PSOE voters are also angry because Sánchez had ruled out not only a referendum on the secession of Catalonia from Spain like in 2017, but also an amnesty for separatists until the election on July 23rd. When the election results were available and it became clear that he could only govern with the help of separatist parties, he appeared open to an amnesty. Sánchez is committed to defusing the Catalan conflict through dialogue and compromise. The strategy is risky because it could cost him many votes in the rest of the country.
The People’s Party called for rallies in the capitals of all provinces in the country. The right-wing populist Vox and the small liberal party Ciudadanos joined. Although Feijóo received the most votes in the July 23 election, he was unable to forge a majority in parliament, mainly because other parties apart from the PP did not want to be in the same boat as Vox.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.