SOME 31,000 people took to the streets of Madrid on Saturday to protest against the Spanish government, and demand the resignation of Socialist Party Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
The demonstration was supported by around 100 right-wing groups, including the conservative Popular Party (PP), centre-right Ciudadanos (Citizens) and far-right Vox.
The slogan of the rally was ‘For Spain, for democracy and the Constitution’, according to a report from news agency Reuters.
The crowds assembled outside the central Plaza de Cibeles, where they waved Spanish flags – some of which were the pre-Constitutional version, a symbol that is associated with the regime of former dictator Francisco Franco.
The speakers at the event attacked the government – a coalition of the Socialist Party and junior partner Unidas Podemos – for its policies and decisions, including measures taken to appease pro-Catalan independence parties and a controversial consent law that has had the unintended effect of reducing prison sentences for some convicted sex offenders.
The only party leader to attend the event was Santiago Abascal, of Vox. He claimed that the government had ‘trampled the Constitution by locking up Spaniards’, in reference to the strict lockdowns imposed during the worst days of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, the general secretary of the Madrid branch of the PP, Alfonso Serrano, proclaimed that the region ‘will be the tomb of sanchismo on May 28’, which is the date when municipal and regional elections are due to be held. A general election is also scheduled for some time before December.
One of the most popular placards on display by members of the crowd was being held by a couple called Mari Paz and Javier, according to Spanish daily El Pais. It was calling for a return of obligatory military service for Spaniards.