‘For the rule of law, SOS EU’: 170,000 protesters gathered in central Madrid today to denounce a planned amnesty law for Catalan separatists prosecuted over the 2017 secession attempt, a law that allowed Socialist Party leader Pedro Sanchez to secure a vote of confidence in the Spanish Parliament.

Demonstrators of all ages holding Spanish or European flags gathered in Thimbeles Square in central Madrid chanting “Sanchez traitor”, “Sanchez p….son”, “Sanchez in jail!”, “Sanchez is not president (of government), is a criminal’ or ‘Catalonia is Spain’.

The Socialist Party of Pedro Sanchez he came second in the July election, behind Alberto Núñez Feijo’s Popular Party, which failed to secure a vote of confidence in parliament. On Thursday, Sanchez managed to renew his prime ministership having secured the support of Spain’s local parties, including Catalonia’s separatists, with a pricey trade-off: the imminent passage of a law granting amnesty to Catalan separatists prosecuted for his involvement in the 2017 secession attempt.

“They know they don’t have the votes to do what they’re doing. That’s why we tell them with this demonstration,” said Alberto Núñez Feijo, accusing Pedro Sánchez of turning Spaniards “against each other.”

Ten days ago, Brussels demanded an explanation from Madrid on the draft amnesty law, after a large number of Spaniards addressed the issue to the European Union.

“RIP Spanish democracy 1978-2023”, read one of the banners of the demonstration, but also “Europe help us”, “For the rule of law, SOS EU” and “Democracy for sale”.