Right-Wingers Rally in Madrid, Demand Socialist PM Resign

Lester Mason
February 11, 2019

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.

They are opposed to Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's proposal to hold talks with Catalan pro-independence parties.

"The time of Mr Sanchez's government is over", said Popular Party president Pablo Casado, who asked voters to punish Mr Sanchez's Spanish Socialist Workers' Party in upcoming European, local and regional elections in May.

Police said around 45,000 people packed Colon Square and surrounding streets for the event, which came just two days before the high-profile trial of Catalan separatist leaders opens in Madrid over their role in Catalonia's failed 2017 independence bid.

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

Mr Sanchez inherited the Catalan crisis from former prime minister Mariano Rajoy, the then-leader of the Popular Party.

Opposition leaders view the proposed move as treason and a surrender to the demands of Catalan independence activists. Rajoy proved incapable of stopping support for secession from swelling in Catalonia to roughly half of the region's voters.

Under the shadow of Colon Square's huge Spanish red and yellow flag, demonstrators bussed in from all over the country heard speakers call for the defence of Spanish unity.

Campaigners for Catalan independence regained power in Barcelona in May a year ago after being under direct rule by Madrid for seven months. He has met twice with Catalan chief Quim Torra and members of both governments had several more encounters.

Mr Sanchez had said he would be willing to help Catalan politicians agree to a new Charter Law, which determines the amount of self-rule the region enjoys. That prompted an outcry from the opposition, which accused Sanchez of giving in to pressure from the separatists, whose votes he will need to pass a crucial budget plan next week. But those parties have said their vote for the budget is conditional on the Catalan talks including the issue of independence, something the government will not include.

The rally is being accompanied by calls for early elections.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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