The protests in Madrid last Saturday. SUR
Why protest?

Why protest?


One of the main themes of the demonstration was Sánchez's perceived leniency towards Catalan separatists


Friday, 27 January 2023, 13:12


You don't need to be right wing to oppose Pedro Sánchez, but it probably helps. Because they were backed by both the Popular Party (PP) and Vox, the mass protests held against the Socialist-led coalition in Madrid last Saturday have been dubbed by some media outlets as "right wing" or even "far right" demonstrations.

But you could have participated in them without having the slightest desire to support either party, as I would have done if I lived in Madrid. What's more, your attendance could have been motivated by issues which weren't mentioned by participants, but which are just as deserving of criticism, even outrage, as those that were.

One of the main themes of the demonstration was Sánchez's perceived leniency towards Catalan separatists. This is, however, an inevitable side-effect of his coalition's minority status, a necessary component of his realpolitik, rather than part of a mission to "break up Spain", as one protester told AFP.

A state-approved referendum on Catalan independence, let alone the materialisation of a Republic of Catalonia, is just as unlikely under Sánchez's leadership as it was under that of Mariano Rajoy.

Vox leader Santiago Abascal overstated the matter with typical bombast when he said at the demonstration that Sánchez's coalition is the "worst government in [Spain's] history".

It's not, for the simple reason that it has done some good things, such as tackle instabilities in the labour market and place consent at the centre of rape law. He was closer to the mark (although still not quite on it, obviously) when he referred to Sánchez as an "autocrat".

For a leader who's been found by one of Spain's top courts to have acted unconstitutionally during the pandemic and who's displayed an inordinate fondness for Royal Decrees, that's not a wholly inaccurate term

One issue alone would have been sufficient to get me out on the streets last weekend: lockdown.

It's not just that the Constitutional Court found the quarantine to consist in an unsanctioned suspension of fundamental rights, although that's a serious enough charge.

It's also the fact that, since the ruling, Sánchez hasn't even attempted to explain on what basis he saw fit to enforce such a repressive, ruinous measure in violation of the Constitution, or whether he was concerned about the potential illegality of doing so at the time.

The Catalan phone-hacking scandal would also have been a good enough reason to join the 30,000-strong crowd last Saturday.

Feeling anger at that and lockdown (still, after all this time...) is perfectly compatible with not being pumped at the prospect of the PP and Vox taking over Moncloa at the end of this year.


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