© Reuters. People hold flags as they take part in a demonstration called by the Popular Party against a deal reached by Spain’s socialists with the Catalan separatist party Junts for government support, which involves amnesties for those involved with the Catalan party
MADRID (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of people demonstrated across Spain on Sunday against interim Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s plan to grant amnesty to Catalan separatists in exchange for support for a new term.
The government reached an agreement on Thursday with the Catalan separatist party Junts, which includes the adoption of a controversial law granting amnesty to those found guilty of the attempted secession of Catalonia from Spain in 2017.
The deal sent shockwaves across the country, with Sanchez’s conservative opponents accusing him of putting the rule of law on the line for his own political gain.
“We will not be silent until there are new elections,” Popular Party (PP) leader Alberto Nunez Feijoo told a jubilant crowd gathered at Madrid’s Puerta del Sol.
Authorities said 80,000 people had come to Madrid while the PP, which had called for demonstrations in Spanish cities, estimated the total at one million.
Many waved Spanish and European flags, as well as banners with slogans such as “respect the Constitution”.
“He (Sanchez) betrayed coexistence, democracy… he cannot continue to govern,” said banker Tomas Perez, 38, brandishing a sign reading “Traitor Sanchez.”
“A lot of people I know who vote for the socialists are absolutely disappointed because… Sánchez never said that amnesty would be part of his program,” said Inmaculada Herranz Castro, 64.
In Barcelona, local police said 6,000 people demonstrated, while the number reached 30,000 in Granada and 50,000 in Seville, according to authorities. Other protests took place in cities including Malaga, Palma and Valencia.
After inconclusive elections on July 23, the Socialists spent weeks negotiating with smaller parties, including the far-left Sumar Platform and the Catalan, Galician and Basque nationalist parties.
Confirmed support from Junts, as well as the Basque Nationalist Party, last week would give Sanchez an absolute majority among the 350 members of the lower house in a vote that will take place in the coming days.