Friday, 22 November, 2019

Spaniards protest against government talks with Catalan leaders

Spain's PM Pedro Sanchez is facing opposition to his talks with Catalan separatist parties Spain's PM Pedro Sanchez is facing opposition to his talks with Catalan separatist parties
Deanna Wagner | 12 February, 2019, 20:12

Tens of thousands of people waving Spain's red-and-yellow flag demonstrated in Madrid on Sunday to oppose any concessions by the government to Catalan pro-independence parties and to call for early elections. They chanted slogans in favor of the nation's security forces and for Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to resign.

The protest was organised by two centre-right parties, the Popular Party and Ciudadanos, with the new far-right Vox Party also participating.

The three parties won a majority in a regional election in the southwestern region of Andalusia in December, ousting the Socialists from power in the region after 36 years.

"We are here to say no to separatism and yes to Spain", added Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera.

Sanchez, who replaced a conservative government last June in a vote of confidence, holds just a quarter of the seats in parliament and relies on backing from anti-austerity party Podemos, Catalan nationalists and other small parties to pass laws.

Twelve Catalan politicians go on trial on Tuesday (February 12) for their role in Catalonia's failed 2017 independence bid, but they don't think they will get a fair trial, a defence lawyer said on Monday.

The right wing parties accused the government of treachery over the move.

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Thousands of demonstrators hold Spanish flags during a protest in Madrid, Spain, on Sunday, Feb.10, 2019.

Around 45,000 people attended, officials said.

Amid the ongoing protests, embattled Prime Minister Sanchez tweeted, "The #Government works for the unity of #Spain and this means uniting the Spaniards and not confronting them as the right does".

Speaking at a Socialist party event in northern Spain, Sanchez reminded his political opponents that when he was an opposition leader, he stood by Rajoy on the situation in Catalonia even after separatist regional officials staged an October 2017 independence referendum in defiance of Spanish courts.

Sánchez is facing opposition on both sides as he attempts to pass through his government's proposed budget next Wednesday. If Sanchez is unable to approve his budget, he could call elections before his term is over in 2020.

Ana Puente, a 73 year-old retiree, said she was protesting for a "united Spain".