Thousands join rightist rally against Spanish government

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The demonstrators gathered in the Plaza de Cibeles in front of the City Hall, waved Spanish flags, called on Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to resign and shouted ‘traitor’.

More than 100 groups – including the conservative opposition Popular Party, the centre-right Ciudadanos and the extreme right Vox – called the rally under the slogan “For Spain, for democracy and the constitution”.

The speakers attacked the government for a series of policies and decisions, ranging from the release of Catalan independence campaigns to its pacts with regional separatist parties. Around 30,000 people took part, according to local government estimates.

Vox leader Santiago Abascal, the only party leader in attendance, told the crowd that the government had “trenched the constitution by locking up the Spanish,” in a reference to the COVID lockdown.

About 200km (120 miles) away in the northwestern city of Valladolid, Sanchez told a Socialist rally that protesters in Madrid were defending a “uniform” and therefore “discriminatory” Spain.

In June 2021, the Sanchez government pardoned the nine jailed leaders of Catalonia’s failed 2017 independence bid “in a spirit of dialogue”. Its recent decision to replace the crime of sedition with a lesser offense was opposed on the right.

(Reporting by Elena Rodriguez, Jessica Jones and Michael Gore, Writing by Jessica Jones, Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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