Mass protests take place in Spain against PM Sánchez’s amnesty deal with Catalan separatists News
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Mass protests take place in Spain against PM Sánchez’s amnesty deal with Catalan separatists

Mass demonstrations took place on Sunday in various Spanish cities where hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to protest against Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s plan to grant amnesty to Catalan separatists in exchange for parliamentary support.

Sunday’s protests were led by the conservative Spanish People’s Party (PP), which has called Sánchez “a threat to Spanish democracy.” Protesters expressed their dissatisfaction by holding banners that said “Stop Sánchez” and “Sánchez traitor.” 

Many Catalan separatists have been indicted for their involvement in the Catalan independence referendum in October 2017, which resulted in a 90 percent majority voting for Catalan independence and the Catalan government’s proclaimed separation from Spain. The Spanish Constitutional Court then nullified the referendum, holding that the regional law on which it was based was illegal under the Spanish Constitution. Several Catalan officials were arrested and charged for their involvement with the referendum and declaration of independence.

Among all persons involved, Carles Puigdemont, the former president of Catalonia who declared independence, was charged with several crimes including rebellion, sedition, embezzlement and malfeasance. Shortly after the Constitutional Court ruling, Puigdemont fled and has since remained in other European countries, including Belgium, Finland, Denmark and Germany.

While in exile, Puigdemont founded the Together for Catalonia party (Junts), with which Sánchez’s amnesty deal was negotiated. After the inconclusive elections in July, where no party had won a majority, Sánchez’s Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) signed an agreement with Puigdemont’s Junts, where Puigdemont demanded a “complete and effective abandonment” of all judicial actions against Catalan independence in exchange for the seven votes from his party. Notably, Junts’ votes are crucial to Sánchez’s reaching the 176-seat majority in the Congress of Deputies to ensure his return to power. On the other hand, Puigdemont currently still faces several charges in Spain, and he will only be able to return to Spain without the risk of facing legal proceedings if the charges against him are dropped.

On September 24, more than 40,000 protesters took to the streets in Madrid to denounce the planned amnesty deal.