Friday, 15 February, 2019

Madrid demonstrators reject government's Catalonia policy

A woman holds a placard reading A woman holds a placard reading"Free political prisoners in Barcelona Credit LLUIS GENE AFP
Melinda Barton | 12 February, 2019, 20:14

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".

Tens of thousands of people waving Spanish flags joined a rally on Sunday in Madrid called by right-wing and far-right parties against Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who they accuse of treachery over his negotiations with Catalan separatists.

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. They are reportedly viewing Sanchez's proposal as succumbing to the pressure of those who have called for Catalonian independence.

"The time of Sanchez's government has ended", Popular Party leader Pablo Casado said at the protest.

Sanchez's minority government, came to power last June ousting a conservative government and relying on the support of the left-wing party Podemos, Catalan nationalists and other small parties.

The opposition has called for early elections.

The protest occurred as the government anticipated a vote Wednesday, Feb. 13, on its budget proposal.

Madrid endured a massive rally on Sunday, as people took to the streets to express their support of a united Spain and to reject any concessions by the government to the Catalan independence movement.

"The government is giving many things to supporters of Catalan independence and is going to break Spain apart", said Raquel García, 76, who was carrying a Spanish flag.

The political tensions come as a highly sensitive trial at Spain's Supreme Court starts tomorrow for 12 Catalan separatists who face charges, including rebellion, for their roles in a failed secession attempt in 2017.

If Sanchez fails to secure enough votes to pass the 2019 national budget, he may be forced to call snap polls.

The rally was organized by the conservative opposition Popular Party (PP) and the center-right Citizens Party, with backing from the far-right party Vox.