In a historic display of dissent, approximately 170,000 people flooded on Saturday in a massive protest in Madrid against Catalonia amnesty law, marking the largest protest to date against Spain's amnesty law.
Saturday's demonstration becomes the largest protest against the controversial amnesty law, challenging the recent political agreement in Spain.
A number of nationwide protests have taken place in response to the contentious legislation that the Socialists agreed upon in order to win the support of Catalan and Basque nationalist parties, underscoring widespread opposition to the political compromise.
The catalyst for the protest is the controversial amnesty law, a response to Catalonia's 2017 separatist bid.
Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, a Socialist, clinched a four-year term just two days prior with the backing of Catalan and Basque nationalist parties.
However, this political victory came at the cost of endorsing a law that grants amnesty to about 400 individuals associated with the independence movement, including separatists and police involved in clashes.
The massive gathering saw protesters wielding Spanish flags and brandishing signs with messages such as "Sanchez traitor" and "Don't sell Spain."
The opposition leaders, Alberto Nunez Feijoo of the conservative People's Party and Santiago Abascal of the far-right Vox party, participated in the march.
Civil groups organized the event, demonstrating widespread dissatisfaction with the perceived threat the amnesty law poses to the rule of law and the separation of powers.
After the rally, protesters took their dissent to the motorway near the Moncloa Palace, the prime minister's residence in Madrid. The closure of the A6 road for about an hour disrupted traffic, symbolizing the intensity of public discontent.
Additionally, a small protest unfolded outside the Spanish Embassy in London, highlighting the international reverberations of the amnesty controversy.
The dissent has not been confined to Spanish borders, as a small protest unfolded outside the Spanish Embassy in London.
The amnesty in question is set to be the largest in Spain since the 1977 blanket amnesty for crimes during the Franco dictatorship. Its approval signifies the first amnesty law within the European Union since 1991.
Sanchez has defended the law, emphasizing its potential to alleviate tensions in Catalonia.
However, critics, including four judicial associations, opposition parties, and business leaders, argue that it compromises the core tenets of the Spanish legal system.
Thousands protest against an amnesty deal for people involved with Catalonia's failed 2017 independence bid, in Madrid, Spain, November 18, 2023.
The Madrid protest follows 15 consecutive nights of demonstrations outside the Socialist headquarters.
While these protests, which include neo-Nazi groups, have seen clashes with the police, they have generally been peaceful.
The survey revealing that 70% of respondents oppose the amnesty reflects a widespread sentiment against the perceived leniency toward those involved in the 2017 independence bid.
The issue has deepened existing social divisions, with citizens expressing divergent views on the appropriate response to Catalonia's separatist aspirations. Managing this social discord will be a significant challenge for the Sanchez government.
Spain finds itself at a crossroads, grappling with the aftermath of a controversial political deal that has ignited one of the most significant waves of public dissent in recent history.
The protest in Madrid serves as both a reflection of public discontent and a harbinger of potential challenges for the Sanchez government.
As the nation navigates this tumultuous period, the outcomes will reverberate across its political, social, and diplomatic spheres, shaping the trajectory of Spanish governance for the foreseeable future.