Thousands of Spanish summoned by the opposition of the right and extreme right they demonstrated this Sunday in Madrid against the intention of President Pedro Sánchez to pardon Catalan leaders convicted of the failed secession attempt in 2017.
Between flags of Spain, some 126,000 people according to the Municipal Police, demonstrated in the central Plaza de Colón, the same where thousands of people gathered in February 2019, two days before the start of the trial of the independentistas.
On the side of the opposition were the leader of the conservative Popular Party (PP), Pablo Casado, and that of the extreme right of Vox, Santiago Abascal. “I ask Pedro Sánchez to take note, because he is going to pardon them, but the Spaniards are not going to pardon him “said José Luis Martínez Almeida, mayor of Madrid and spokesman for the PP, who gathered signatures against this initiative.
Everything indicates that the pardons will arrive before August. Conservatives consider it a decision motivated by the Government’s needs to add political consensus in a coalition of socialists and Podemos, a minority in Parliament and dependent on Catalan separatism.
“I ask you to have confidence. I ask for understanding and magnanimity because the challenge that we have ahead, to sow coexistence, is worth it”, said this week.
Of the 12 convicted, nine are serving sentences of between nine and 13 years in prison. Among them is Oriol Junqueras, leader of the separatist Left Republican Party (ERC), a key ally of the Spanish Government in Congress.
With a letter sent to local media, Junqueras gave the Sánchez Executive a break by showing himself in favor of pardons -which he despised at first-, and making self-criticism about the secessionist attempt of 2017.
“We must be aware that our response was not understood as fully legitimate by a part of society”Junqueras wrote, thus renouncing the unilateral path and advocating a referendum agreed with Madrid, which the Government rejects because it considers it contrary to the Constitution.
The most radical wing of the independence movement – where the party of the former regional president is located Carles Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium, however, does not renounce the unilateral route and is inflexible in his claim for amnesty for the convicted, a position that the Government does not consider.
Unlike the demonstration of the right in 2019, when Casado, the president of Vox, Santiago Abascal, and the then head of the Liberals of Ciudadanos, Albert Rivera, posed in a joint photo, this time no one wanted to repeat the image.
With Rivera out of politics and Casado fighting not to be overshadowed by Vox or by the push of Madrid regional president Isabel Díaz Ayuso, there was no photo today.