Feb 10, 2019 19:40 Asia/Tehran

Thousands of people have rallied in the Spanish capital, Madrid, crying for the resignation of the country’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez over his government’s negotiations with separatist Catalans.

Iran Press/Europe: Tens of thousands of Spanish protesters demonstrated in Madrid on Sunday to oppose any concessions by the government to Catalan pro-independence parties and to call for early elections.

Demonstrators chanting 'Spain! Spain!' and 'We want to vote!' filled the Plaza de Colon in the city center in the largest protest Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has faced in eight months in office, reported Reuters.

The opposition center-right and far-right parties called the rally, seeking to make a show of force against Sanchez by capitalizing on anger with Catalonia’s separatist leaders and the government’s efforts to establish a dialogue with them.

Around 45,000 people attended, officials said. The government’s proposal last Tuesday to appoint a rapporteur in talks among political parties to address the Catalan independence crisis galvanized the opposition, which has deemed it a betrayal and a surrender to pressure from Catalan separatists.

Sanchez, who replaced a conservative government last June in a vote of confidence, holds just a quarter of the seats in parliament and relies on backing from anti-austerity party Podemos, Catalan nationalists and other small parties to pass laws.

The protest took place two days before the start of the trial of 12 Catalan independence leaders, who face up to 25 years in prison on charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds for their role in a failed secession bid from Spain that they are accused of spearheading in 2017.

The government faces a key vote on Wednesday on its 2019 budget proposal, which will likely fail without the support of Catalan parties. But those parties have said their vote for the budget is conditional on the Catalan talks including the issue of independence, something the government will not include.

Failure by parliament to approve the budget bill could prompt a snap election before the next scheduled vote in 2020.

Recent opinion polls have shown the conservative Popular Party, center-right Ciudadanos and far-right Vox could together win a majority of seats in parliament if elections were held, allowing them to replace the Socialist government. 203/103

 

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Spain rejects Catalan ultimatum on self-determination

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