Published: Tue, February 12, 2019

Outside the Nest: Protesters gather in Madrid, call for election

Outside the Nest: Protesters gather in Madrid, call for election

"The time of Mr Sanchez's government is over", said Popular Party president Pablo Casado, who asked voters to punish Mr Sanchez's Spanish Socialist Workers' Party in upcoming European, local and regional elections in May.

Many in the crowd assembled in Madrid's Plaza de Colon waved the national flag and chanted slogans in support of Spain's security forces along with calling for the Socialist prime minister's resignation.

His minority government last week agreed to allow an independent rapporteur - as requested by Catalan separatists - to attend future talks with pro-independence parties. Calls for Sanchez's resignation were made by the protesters who collected at the Plaza de Colon here on February 10.

Mr Sanchez, who came to power in June with the support of Catalan nationalist parties, defended his government's attempts at dialogue with Catalonia.

Catalan separatists, however, have rejected the offer for talks, saying they want a new independence vote.

Opposition parties have called for early elections.

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

Mr Sanchez inherited the Catalan crisis from former prime minister Mariano Rajoy, the then-leader of the Popular Party.

The rally was called by centre-right Ciudadanos, the conservative Popular Party (PP) and far-right Vox, which has only recently burst onto Spain's political scene, as well as a handful of smaller far-right groups.

Sanchez said on Saturday that the gathering would show a "Spain in black and white that simply proposes to go backwards". But Mr Sanchez's government broke off negotiations on Friday, when vice president Carmen Calvo said the separatists would not budge from their demand for an independence referendum.

Ana Puente, a 73 year-old retiree, said she was protesting for a "united Spain".

"The government is giving many things to supporters of Catalan independence and is going to break Spain apart", said Raquel García, 76, who was carrying a Spanish flag.

The protests lasted two days and preceded the trial of 12 Catalan separatist leaders who were charged with rebellion and misuse of public funds, after the independence referendum past year which was deemed illegal by Madrid.

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