Spain: Tens of thousands demonstrate against the government

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Spain: tens of thousands demonstrate against the government

Some 30,000 people took part in the rally in Cibeles Square in Madrid, according to estimates by the central government delegation in the Spanish capital, the organizers putting the figure at 700,000 people.

Show of force at the start of the electoral year in Spain: several tens of thousands of people demonstrated on Saturday in Madrid against the left-wing government of Pedro Sanchez, in particular against its Catalan policy, with the support of the #x27;right-wing and far-right opposition.

Participants, many waving red and yellow Spanish flags, demanded the Prime Minister's resignation, with some showing a portrait of Mr. Sanchez crossed out with the mention traitor.

Some 30,000 people took part in the rally in Cibeles Square in Madrid, according to estimates by the central government delegation in the Spanish capital, with organizers putting the figure at 700,000 people.

The demonstration, organized at the call of right-wing civil society organisations, received the support of the Popular Party (PP), the main opposition party, and the extreme party right Vox, knowing that the general elections are scheduled for the end of 2023.

The right is outraged by the government's decision to abolish the offense of sedition, the main charge having targeted nine Catalan independence leaders sentenced to sentences ranging from 9 to 13 years in prison for their role in the attempt of secession from Catalonia, in 2017.

This offense of sedition was replaced by another offense punishable by less severe prison sentences.

Conservatives also criticize a law against sexual violence that increases penalties for rape while reducing sentences for other sexual offenses.

Speaking to the press at the start of the rally, Vox leader Santiago Abascal denounced the worst government in history that divided Spaniards and freed rapists and perpetrators of beatings. State.

“We need a permanent and massive mobilization until the autocrat Pedro Sanchez be ousted from power. »

— Santiago Abascal, leader of Vox

Antonio Orduna, 67, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that he had come to demonstrate against a government that lets people get away with x27;case those who want to dislocate Spain.

This retired accountant denounces the abolition of the offense of sedition and the decision in 2021 of Mr. Sanchez to pardon the nine separatist leaders sentenced to between 9 and 13 years in prison for their role in the 2017 events.

With Carles Puigdemont at its head, the Catalan regional government had tried in October 2017 to secede from Spain by organizing a referendum of self-determination, prohibited by justice, before the local Parliament unilaterally declares the region's independence.

This attempted secession sparked one of the most serious political crises Spain had seen in decades. Separatist leaders had been incarcerated or had fled abroad, such as Mr. Puigdemont.

People's Party President Alberto Nunez Feijoo, who tried to change the PP to the center since assuming its leadership in April, has not attended the rally while encouraging its members to participate.

Most polls give the PP the winner in the general election scheduled for the end of the year, but they also show that the Tories will need Vox's support to govern.

Local and regional elections are also scheduled for May.

One ​​of Mr. Feijoo's main dilemmas is whether the PP should continue its policy of alliance with Vox as it did in some areas or end it to broaden its base.

Vox split from the PP in 2013 and is now the third force in the Parliament.

Without a parliamentary majority, the government of Mr. Sanchez has for its part been obliged since its formation to negotiate with the Basque and Catalan separatists to have its laws adopted, which has aroused the anger of the right.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez

Conservatives accuse Sanchez of deleting the offense of sedition to ensure the support of the Catalan independence party ERC in Parliament.

The government counters that this provision of the law, archaic, should be replaced by another more in line with European standards.

At a Socialist Party rally on Saturday in Valladolid, Sanchez defended his record, saying the government had to take action to soothes r the conflict in Catalonia.

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