Secessionists, who held an independence referendum in wealthy Catalonia in 2017, are now very much needed by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to create the government of the Kingdom of Spain. But for this plan to succeed, they must first be pardoned.
Police had to use batons, rubber bullets and tear gas to hold back the angry crowd. At least 12 people were injured, including two policemen. For the second night in a row, several thousand supporters of the right and the extreme right took to the streets of Madrid – among the flags appeared, among others, symbols of the fascist dictatorship of General Franco. Several hundred people tried to get to the parliament building. The addressee of the protests is the Prime Minister of Spain, socialist Pedro Sanchez. Protesters are outraged when the head of government promises amnesty for Catalan separatists so that they will support his new government in return. – The announcement of amnesty is a signal that they have not committed a crime. And they broke the principle of coexistence and violated the constitution. We have to protest against this, says one of the protest participants.
The political crisis in Spain began in the summer. Parliamentary elections were held on July 23. The best results were achieved by right-wing parties, but to date no one has managed to gain a majority. Left-wing Prime Minister Sanchez is trying to win the votes of five regional parties: from the Basque Country, Galicia and, above all, Catalonia. Catalans have demanded amnesty for several thousand people – both those convicted and those against whom trials are still underway for organizing the illegal independence referendum in 2017.
Carles Puigdemont, former Prime Minister of Catalonia, who is still hiding from Spanish justice in Belgium, is negotiating with Sanchez. In the eyes of the Spanish right wing, he is a traitor who now hopes to return from his homeland. – Puigdemont is suddenly considered something like the great Cid, a Spanish national hero. In fact, he is a criminal who escaped from Spain. Just two weeks ago, everyone, including Prime Minister Sanchez, said he should go to prison, says one of the protesters.
Protests against Sanchez have been taking place across Spain since September. Their participants call the prime minister’s actions a “coup d’état”, “open corruption” and an attempt to gain support with illegal promises.
In Barcelona, the announcement of amnesty raises hopes for renewing dialogue with Madrid. – We believe that the amnesty will reset the counter. It will show that repression is not the right solution, that the aspirations of citizens are legitimate, and it is the duty of a law-abiding state to recognize these aspirations – emphasizes Xavier Antich, president of the “Omnium Cultural” association in Barcelona.
More than half of Spaniards oppose amnesty. There are also skeptics among the Catalan separatists who do not believe in the prime minister’s sincere intentions, although thanks to the pardon they can avoid prison. – I don’t believe in any negotiations. Politicians only want to protect their butts and their positions, and then decide about money and cling to power, emphasizes Alex Ramon, a Catalan separatist.
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The vote on the vote of confidence for the next government of Pedro Sanchez is scheduled to take place by the end of November. The far-right Vox party has challenged Pedro Sanchez’s actions in the Constitutional Court and is calling for further protests.
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Main photo source: Reuters