Spain erupts in unrest as socialist power grab looms
Parliament expected to vote in new government this week
Yudi Sherman, Frontline News, November 13, 2023
Tensions over a power grab by the Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party (PSOE) hit a new high last week when a Spanish politician was shot in the face and dozens of Spaniards were injured in ongoing demonstrations.
Spain has been ruled by the PSOE and its socialist leader, Pedro Sánchez, ever since the country’s elections turned up inconclusive in June. Although the Right-leaning People’s Party (PP) received the most votes, it was unable to form a majority in Parliament. King Felipe VI appointed Sánchez acting prime minister and entrusted him to form a government.
It now looks as though Sánchez has found a way to make his job permanent. The PSOE has teamed up with Junts, a political party of Catalan separatists committed to the secession of Catalonia. In 2017 they held seven seats in Parliament but were exiled to Brussels for sedition after declaring independence from Spain. In a deeply controversial move, Sánchez has now offered Junts leaders amnesty in exchange for their votes, which would give the socialist party the seats it needs to form a new government.
Negotiations between PSOE and Junts last month set off widespread protests in Madrid and other cities. The demonstrations have involved as many as 7,000 protesters — including members of Right-leaning factions like PP and Vox — and have sometimes turned violent amid clashes with police.
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On Tuesday night at least 30 police officers and nine civilians were injured when thousands of protesters surrounded the PSOE’s offices on Calle de Ferraz in Madrid. Police used tear gas and rubber bullets on demonstrators and arrested seven.
Sánchez, who claims his sudden embrace of the Catalan separatists will usher in an era of “coexistence,” defiantly responded on social media.
“We expect nothing from those who, by action or by omission, support the besieging of socialist premises,” he wrote on X Tuesday night. “Their silence speaks volumes. Social progress and coexistence are worth it. They won’t break the PSOE.”
On Thursday a popular politician named Alejo Vidal Quadras, who previously led the PP in Catalonia and has since founded the Right-leaning Vox Party, tweeted against the “shameful” negotiations which he said will “crush the rule of law.”
“Thus will our nation cease to be a liberal democracy and become a totalitarian tyranny. The Spanish people will not allow it,” he wrote on X.
An hour later Quadras was shot in the face by a masked gunman as the politician was leaving the building where he lives. Quadras miraculously survived and is convalescing in the hospital with two jaw fractures.
Government sources say Parliament is expected to vote in the new government with Sánchez at its head Wednesday or Thursday.