Up to 30,000 people protested in the Plaza de Colon yesterday, 13th June against the governments controversial plan to pardon 12 jailed Catalan separatists.
The demonstration which was organised by Unión 78 a platform created by the former leader of UPyD, Rosa Díez, to support Spanish unity, brought the leaders of Spain´s right-wing parties together to protest against the plan.
The leaders of the main opposition party, Partido Popular, centre-right Ciudadanos party and far-right Vox supported the event.
The Catalan separatists had been convicted of sedition for attempting to organise an independence referendum in October 2017.
The PSOE-Podermos coalition government insist that the controversial pardons will help sooth a volatile political standoff between Madrid and Barcelona,as well as allow for dialogue to end the impasse between the two.
The previous Partido Popular government led by Mariono Rajoy, had reacted firmly against the organisers of the referendum and triggered Article 155 of the 1978 Spanish Constitution which suspended Catalonia’s autonomy.
The central government sent Civil Guard units to the autonomous community to try and stop the referendum from going ahead.
The aftermath saw continuing central government crackdowns – with the regional police force, the Mossos d’Esquadra investigated for disobedience and the leading Catalan protagonists arrested and in 2019 were convicted of sediton.
Some 700 local mayors and regional elected politicians were also investigated for their involvement.
Some of the demonstrators believe the pardons will lead to the break-up of Spain, but Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, said that “Spanish society needs to move from a bad past to a better future – and that will require magnanimity.”
According to the latest opinion poll in the Spanish daily El Mundo, 61% oppose the move while just under 30% approve.
In an earlier development, Spain´s Supreme Court said in a non-binding report that it opposes government pardons – leaving the issue open for a court showdown with the government.