Spaniards demand PM’s resignation in Madrid rally

Sergio Conner
February 12, 2019

Municipal police estimated some 45,000 people had taken part in the protest, which comes just two days before the high-profile trial of Catalan separatist leaders opens in Madrid under the national and foreign spotlight.

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

Centre-right wing parties Popular Party and Ciudadanos organised Sunday's protest, and the newly emerged far-right party Vox also participated.

Catalan separatists, however, have rejected the offer for talks, saying they want a new independence vote. The rally was called by opposition center-right and right-wing parties, following the efforts of the government, led by Socialist PM Pedro Sanchez, to establish a dialog with Catalan separatists.

"We are here to say NO to separatism and YES to Spain, it's enough!" They claim that Sanchez must resign for holding talks with separatists in the north-eastern region of Catalonia.

Since his party holds about a quarter of the seats in Parliament, Sanchez relies on support from the Podemos party, Catalan nationalists and other small parties to pass laws.

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Thousands attend Madrid demo against Catalan independence.

Former French prime minister Manuel Valls, who was born in Barcelona and is running for mayor of Spain's second largest city, and Peru's Mario Vargas Llosa, a Nobel Prize-winning author who became a Spanish citizen in the 1990s and has spoken out in favour of conservative Spanish causes, were among those who attended the Madrid protest.

Earlier, the opposition called on Spaniards to take to the streets after the government's proposal, voiced last Tuesday, to appoint a rapporteur in negotiations among political parties to address the Catalan political crisis.

Sánchez is facing opposition on both sides as he attempts to pass through his government's proposed budget next Wednesday.

Failure by parliament to approve the budget bill could prompt a snap election before the next scheduled vote in 2020. He asked voters to punish Sanchez's Socialists in the European, local and regional elections in May.

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.

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