170000 Spaniards Rally Against Catalan Amnesty Law: A Nation Divided

170000 Spaniards Rally Against Catalan Amnesty Law: A Nation Divided

In a massive demonstration on Saturday, approximately 170,000 people flooded the streets of Madrid in what stands as the largest protest to date against the controversial amnesty law. This law was agreed upon by Spain’s Socialists in connection with Catalonia’s 2017 separatist attempt, a compromise made to secure the formation of a new government.

This rally unfolded just two days after Spain’s Socialist Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, secured a four-year term with the support of Catalan and Basque nationalist parties, a key condition being his endorsement of the contentious law. Protesters, many brandishing Spanish flags and placards bearing slogans like “Sanchez traitor” and “Don’t sell Spain,” voiced their opposition. The law, criticized by four judicial associations, opposition parties, and business leaders, is seen as a threat to the rule of law and the separation of powers.

Official estimates put the number of demonstrators at 170,000. Notable figures, including Alberto Nunez Feijoo of the opposition conservative People’s Party and Santiago Abascal of the far-right Vox party, participated in the march organized by civil groups. Post-rally, hundreds staged a protest on the motorway near the Moncloa Palace, the prime minister’s residence in Madrid. The A6 road experienced temporary closure during the demonstration, reopening after police clearance. Additionally, a smaller protest occurred outside the Spanish Embassy in London.

The amnesty, set to encompass around 400 individuals linked to the 2017 independence bid, is inclusive of separatists and police involved in clashes during the referendum. The referendum, deemed illegal by the courts, sparked Spain’s most significant political crisis in decades. This amnesty marks Spain’s largest since the 1977 blanket amnesty for crimes committed during the Franco dictatorship, and it stands as the first approved within the European Union since 1991, according to Spain’s CSIC research council.

Sanchez, who secured parliamentary approval for the new government on Thursday, has defended the law as a means to alleviate tensions in Catalonia. Notably, protesters, including neo-Nazi groups, have been staging lively demonstrations outside the Socialist headquarters in Madrid for 15 consecutive nights, expressing their discontent. Although clashes with police have occurred, the overall tone of the protests has remained largely peaceful.

A mid-September survey by Metroscopia revealed that approximately 70% of respondents, including 59% of Socialist supporters, opposed the idea of amnesty. The ongoing dissent underscores the public’s reservations and the challenges faced by Sanchez’s government in navigating this complex issue.

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Emily Johnson

Meet Emily Johnson, a rising star in the world of news reporting. Armed with a Communications degree from Harvard University, Emily's writing is a perfect blend of creativity and fact-based journalism. She specializes in human-interest stories, bringing the personal touch that makes every story relatable. Whether it's heartwarming tales or societal issues, Emily is your guide to the trending news you won't want to miss.

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