Spain's right, far-right protest against PM over Catalonia - International

People gather during a protest called by right-wing opposition parties against Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez at Colon square in Madrid Spain

Many in the crowd assembled in Madrid's Plaza de Colon waved the national flag and chanted slogans in support of Spain's security forces along with calling for the Socialist prime minister's resignation.

Former French prime minister Manuel Valls, who was born in Barcelona and is running for mayor of Spain's second largest city, and Peru's Mario Vargas Llosa, a Nobel Prize-winning author who became a Spanish citizen in the 1990s and has spoken out in favour of conservative Spanish causes, were among those who attended the Madrid protest.

The Socialist government's proposal last Tuesday to appoint a rapporteur in talks among political parties to address the Catalan independence crisis has galvanised the opposition, which has deemed it a betrayal and a surrender to pressure from Catalan separatists.

"The unity of Spain means uniting Spaniards and not confronting them as the right wing is doing in Plaza de Colon today", he said. "#UnidosPorEspaña (United for Spain), elections already", Pablo Casado, the President of the People's Party tweeted in Spanish on Sunday.

Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo however, said that the discussions between the government and separatists were likely to fail as pro-independence groups reject the proposed framework.

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The protest occurred as the government anticipated a vote Wednesday, Feb. 13, on its budget proposal.

The protest attracted an estimated 45,000 people and was led by the leaders of the centrist Ciudadanos, the conservative Popular Party, and far-right Vox.

Ana Guisasola, a 50-year-old who works for a motor lubricants firm, said she had voted for the PP and Ciudadanos in the past, but now plans to vote for Vox, which she called Spain's last hope. His minority government will need votes from the Catalan separatists and other parties to pass it. He holds just over a quarter of the seats in parliament and was favoured by Catalan supporters as he was more open to discussions. If Sanchez is unable to approve his budget, he could call elections before his term is over in 2020.

These protests also occurred days before the start of a trial involving 12 Catalan leaders who were charged with embezzlement during a failed bid for independence from Spain in 2017, accordingtothe Guardian.

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