40,000 fill streets of Madrid protesting amnesty for Catalan politicians

Protest was organized by Popular Party, which will try to form government this week

Alyssa Mcmurtry  | 24.09.2023 - Update : 25.09.2023
40,000 fill streets of Madrid protesting amnesty for Catalan politicians


At least 40,000 protesters filled the streets of Madrid on Sunday to protest potential amnesty for Catalan politicians who face charges over the 2017 independence push.

“In Spain, coup plotters have the right to be pardoned and receive amnesty,” said Popular Party leader Alberto Nunez Feijoo, whose party organized the protest.

Feijoo and the protesters are worried that Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Spain’s left-wing bloc will concede to Catalan separatist parties. They are demanding amnesty in exchange for government formation.

July’s national elections in Spain resulted in a hung parliament, and the Catalan separatist parties have emerged as kingmakers.

The protest came just two days before Feijoo will try to convince Spain’s parliament to support his government. After the elections, the conservative leader convinced Spain’s king to give him the first opportunity to form a government.

Now that he is on the streets protesting amnesty for Catalan politicians, he makes it clear that he has little hope of forming a government this week.

“They are protesting against a Socialist government, but I’m sorry, there is going to be one,” Spain’s Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said from Barcelona on Sunday.

Sanchez and his allies have been negotiating with Catalan politicians, including Carles Puigdemont, the former president of Catalonia, who fled Spain after the failed independence push in 2017.

Currently in Belgium, Puigdemont faces charges of sedition and misappropriation of funds if he returns to Spain.

He and his party have given Spanish politicians an ultimatum — either drop the charges against Puigdemont and others in a similar position, or Spaniards will have to go back to the polls to vote again in national elections.

Between 2015 and 2019, Spain held four national elections.

Whether Sanchez will grant amnesty is still unclear.

His party has repeatedly said that all negotiations must be done within Spain’s Constitution, but that the Catalan issue should be treated with political negotiations rather than the use of the law.

At the same time, the Catalan separatist movement seems to pose less of a threat now than it did in the past. While the separatist parties still say they eventually want independence, they are not demanding a binding referendum at this time.

Earlier this month, around 115,000 protestors took to the streets on the National Day of Catalonia calling for independence from Spain, according to police. That is down significantly from past years. In 2014, for instance, 1.8 million protestors took to the streets.

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