Thousands join right-wing demonstration against Spanish government

MADRID, January 21 (Reuters) – Thousands of people gathered in central Madrid on Saturday to protest against the socialist government, accusing it of undermining the constitution, at a rally backed by right-wing parties.

Demonstrators gathered in the Plaza de Cibeles in front of City Hall, waved Spanish flags, called on Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to resign and shouted “traitor”.

More than 100 groups – including the conservative opposition party Partido Popular, the centre-right Ciudadanos and the far-right Vox – called the rally under the slogan “For Spain, for democracy and the constitution”.

Speakers attacked the government for a range of policies and decisions ranging from the release of Catalan independence activists to its pacts with regional separatist parties. According to local government estimates, some 30,000 people took part.

Vox leader Santiago Abascal, the only party leader present, told the crowd that the government had “violated the constitution by imprisoning Spaniards,” in reference to COVID lockdowns.

About 200 km away, in the northwestern city of Valladolid, Sanchez told a socialist rally that the demonstrators in Madrid were defending a “uniform” and therefore “discriminatory” Spain.

In June 2021, Sanchez’s government pardoned the nine imprisoned leaders of Catalonia’s failed 2017 bid for independence “in the spirit of dialogue”. The recent decision to replace the crime of sedition with a lesser crime has met with opposition from the right.

Reporting by Elena Rodriguez, Jessica Jones and Michael Gore, written by Jessica Jones, edited by Andrew Heavens

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Principles of Trust.

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