Police clashed for a second night with protesters who oppose negotiations between Spain’s acting government and Catalan separatist parties over a possible amnesty for thousands involved in Catalonia’s independence movement.
The government said that Tuesday’s gathering at the gates of the national headquarters in Madrid of the ruling Socialist Party was attended by around 7,000, roughly double the number of protestors that took part the day before. There were other similar protests in other Spanish cities.
Six people were detained in the protests and around 30 police officers injured.
Several protestors in Madrid waved Spanish flags and shouted insults against the acting prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, with some of them self-identifing as “nazis” in chants. The protesters pushed against barriers set by police in riot gear, who responded with rubber bullets and by hitting the protestors with batons.
Three people were arrested Monday, the central authorities’ representative in the Spanish capital said, including two men for violent behaviour against police and one woman for disobedience.
A spokeswoman of the far-right Vox party, which holds the third-most seats in the national Parliament, said on Tuesday that the party did not back the violence seen at the gatherings, but that it supported the anti-government protest. Vox’s leader, Santiago Abascal, attended Monday’s event in Madrid.
Sánchez, the Socialists’ leader, blasted the protests, saying they were being led by “reactionaries.”
“(I extend) all my warmth and support for the Socialist Party members who are suffering harassment by reactionaries at their local headquarters,” Sánchez wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
“To attack the headquarters of Spain’s Socialist Party is to attack democracy.”
What is it all about?
Sánchez is negotiating with the Catalan separatist parties to receive their backing in his bid to form a new government and keep his centre-left coalition in power following an inconclusive national election in July.
But the two separatist parties have demanded a sweeping amnesty that would include their leaders who fled Spain following their failed 2017 secession attempt, in exchange for their votes in Parliament, among other concessions.
That has angered many in Spain, including leading opposition parties on the right, who accuse Sánchez of bending to lawbreakers.
Spain’s conservative Popular Party, the main opposition party, has called for its own protest against the amnesty negotiations for Sunday, in public squares in each provincial capital.
Sánchez has until 27 November to form a new government or the Parliament will be automatically dissolved and new elections called for January.
Despite losing steam in recent years, Catalonia’s separatist movement retains strong support in the wealthy northeast region including control of the regional government.