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Spain: Mass rally in Madrid against Catalan amnesty bill

January 28, 2024

A bill that would grant amnesty to those involved in the 2017 Catalan secession bid has divided Spaniards. The pact was main condition by Catalan parties to support Sanchez's coalition government.

Protesters hold flags and banners in Madrid's protest
Conservative PP party leader Alberto Nunez Feijoo organized the rally two days before the lower house of parliament will vote on the billImage: Ricardo Rubio/dpa/EUROPA PRESS/picture alliance

Tens of thousands of people protested in Madrid on Sunday to reject a government plan to provide amnesty for Catalan separatists over their failed 2017 secession bid.

Madrid has been rocked by a number of protests over the proposed amnesty, and Sunday's rally was organized by the conservative opposition party Partido Popular (PP). 

PP leader Alberto Nunez Feijoo and former prime minister Mariano Rajoy, as well as president of the Madrid region Isabel Diaz Ayuso attended the demonstration. 

Thousands gathered in Madrid holding flags and banners
The amnesty bill will be considered in Spain's lower house of Parliament on TuesdayImage: Oscar Gonzalez/Sipa USA/picture alliance

Police estimates put the crowd attendance at 45,000 people, who gathered in the capital's central Plaza de Espana.

Participants held numerous Spanish and EU flags, but also as placards reading "No to amnesty" and "Sanchez traitor," in reference to Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez of the center-left Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) party. 

Nunez Feijoo has said that a majority in the country rejects the amnesty deal and during the rally, he addressed supporters, saying that "nobody will force a country on us that we have not voted for."

Sanchez government depends on deal

Sanchez's government won a vote of confidence in parliament last November for another four-year term, following a snap election that took place in July.

But the amnesty bill for those involved in the 2017 secession bid was main condition by Catalan parties for agreeing to support Sanchez's coalition government.

The bill will be considered in Spain's lower house of Parliament on Tuesday and if approved, the law would block legal action against hundreds of Catalan activists who are being investigated or have been charged for their role in the attempted declaration of an independent Catalan state in 2017.    

If enacted, the measure would take several months to become law.

jcg/lo (dpa, AFP)