Spain’s centre-right Partido Popular (PP) has called for citizens to take part in a major protest in the capital Madrid.
The party of Alberto Núñez Feijóo, who has his eyes on being the Spanish Government’s next leader, is trying to dissuade Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez from giving in to Catalan separatists’ demands.
PP speaker María Concepción “Cuca” Gamarra – Feijóo’s right-hand woman – called for a “grand gathering” in the capital against a potential amnesty for the 2017 separatist leaders.
According to Gamarra, the protest will allow Spanish citizens to “reject the illegal instruments” the government is purportedly negotiating with exiled Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont.
The PP leadership insists Feijóo’s bid for premier “is the alternative to the Socialist-sponsored amnesty” Puigdemont wants.
On September 5, Puigdemont officially demanded amnesty for the convicted Catalan separatists in exchange for his support of Sánchez’s bid to retain his leadership.
Puigdemont stressed that the amnesty should be approved before Sánchez’s premiership debate. He also insisted that the government “forgoes the use of the justice system against the separatists”.
The PP’s protest is one of several set to take place in Spain over the coming weeks.
The Catalan civil society has called for its own mobilisation against any amnesty for the convicted secessionists. The PP has not officially endorsed that protest.
Key PP leaders will be joining in its rally, among them the popular leader of the Madrid region Isabel Díaz Ayuso.
Conservative party Vox president Santiago Abascal is also expected to take part. He said Vox “would support any social initiative against the amnesty”.
On September 12, former PP Prime Minister José María Aznar lambasted Sánchez’s government for its negotiating with Puigdemont, warning that the acting leader’s Socialist Party (PSOE) was “dismantling the Constitution”.
Aznar encouraged citizens to “fight a democratic battle for the Rule of Law”.
“The Spanish society is being tested. No one must stay aside,” he said.
An official spokesman for Sánchez’s government said Aznar’s words were “calls for a coup”. Sánchez has not yet commented.
Analysts point to fractures within the PSOE, with former PSOE prime minister, the influential Felipe González, reportedly organising a public campaign to pressure Sánchez from within.
These so called “historic Socialists” insist that the concept of amnesty in this case “is unconstitutional”.
The PSOE managed to install one of its own as president of Parliament, despite not having the most seats. This could signal Sánchez’s ability to build a large enough majority to renew his mandate.