SPAIN – In Madrid, tens of thousands on Saturday, protest against a contentious Catalan amnesty law that facilitated Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s reelection for a second term.
According to APF report, the law, securing support from the Catalan separatist Junts party, drew the largest protest yet, with over 170,000 participants, igniting opposition rallies across the country.
Chants like “Sanchez, traitor,” “Sanchez in jail,” and “Catalonia is Spain” echoed among protesters of various ages, brandishing Spanish and European flags distributed by the European People’s Party.
Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, in power since 2018, came second in July parliamentary elections behind right-wing leader Alberto Nunez Feijoo, but managed to be reinstated after winning support from regionalist groups including Catalan pro-independence parties.
In exchange for their votes, pivotal for achieving a governing majority, Sanchez accepted various concessions, notably the approval of the amnesty bill for separatist leaders and activists.
The amnesty effectively halts criminal proceedings against numerous pro-independence figures involved in Catalonia’s 2017 attempt to secede from Spain, covering charges ranging from sedition and public order offenses to the misuse of public funds.
Around 400 individuals linked to the independence bid will benefit, including separatists and law enforcement officers involved in clashes during the bid.
This group includes former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, leader of Junts and a key figure behind the unlawful referendum, currently living in exile in Belgium.
Alberto Nunez Feijoo, the right-wing leader, expressed opposition, accusing Sanchez of dividing Spaniards.
He asserted, “They know they don’t have the votes to do what they’re doing. That’s why we’re telling them with this demonstration.”
Santiago Abascal, the far-right Vox party leader, labeled the law “as serious as a coup d’etat,” present at the protest separately from Feijoo.
The crowd dispersed peacefully after midday speeches, following weeks of demonstrations, some turning violent, outside the Socialist Party headquarters in Madrid.