Hundreds of thousands protest Spain's prime minister swearing-in and Catalan deal


Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Some 170,000 protesters took to the streets of Madrid to condemn a controversial deal that allowed Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to secure a second term while granting amnesty to separatists who illegally pushed for Catalan independence.

Sanchez was sworn in on Friday after a failed snap election in July that allowed him to stay in power. Although the conservative People Party, under Alberto Nunez Feijoo, won the election, it was not able to secure enough votes to assume majority power in the nation's parliament.

Protesters in Madrid's Plaza de Cibeles square on Saturday accused Sanchez of hypocrisy and political maneuvering in the amnesty deal. Many held signs calling for his resignation.

Feijoo said Sanchez committed fraud against the Spanish people to stay in power.

"Sadly, we find ourselves at a very difficult moment and democracy's warning lights are flashing," he said. "Being in power is one thing but being right is another. [The government] may have the MPs it needs, but it knows it doesn't have the votes to do what it is doing."

The deal benefits many who joined the alliance for Catalan independence, particularly former Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont, who fled into exile six years ago to evade arrest for his role in the 2017 independence movement.

Upwards of 80,000 people joined a similar protest on Nov. 12.