Published: Tue, February 12, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Thousands protest in Madrid against government's Catalonia policy

Thousands protest in Madrid against government's Catalonia policy

"And what I am doing now as prime minister, always respecting the constitution, is to solve a national crisis to which the Popular Party has contributed", Sanchez said.

Right-wing opposition groups organized the rally in Plaza de Colon, where 45,000 protesters waved Spanish flags and displayed signs demanding "elections now", according to BBC and the New York Times.

His minority government last week agreed to allow an independent rapporteur - as requested by Catalan separatists - to attend future talks with pro-independence parties.

"The unity of Spain means uniting Spaniards and not confronting them as the right wing is doing in Plaza de Colon today", he said.

Sanchez came to power in June with the support of Catalan nationalist parties, which voted with him in a no confidence motion against former Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, whose PP was embroiled in a corruption scandal.

The opposition has called for early elections.

The rally was called by centre-right Ciudadanos, the conservative Popular Party (PP) and far-right Vox, which has only recently burst onto Spain's political scene, as well as a handful of smaller far-right groups. But Sanchez's government broke off negotiations on Friday, when Vice-President Carmen Calvo said the separatists wouldn't budge from their demand for an independence referendum.

Ana Guisasola, a 50-year-old who works for a motor lubricants firm, said she had voted for the PP and Ciudadanos in the past, but now plans to vote for Vox, which she called Spain's last hope.

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 protest took place two days before the start of the trial of 12 Catalan independence leaders, who face up to 25 years in prison on charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds for their role in a failed secession bid from Spain that they are accused of spearheading in 2017. He holds just over a quarter of the seats in parliament and was favoured by Catalan supporters as he was more open to discussions.

Failure by parliament to approve the budget bill could prompt a snap election before the next scheduled vote in 2020.

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