Spaniards protesting against a proposed amnesty for Catalan separatists fought violent battles with the police outside the party headquarters of Pedro Sánchez, the Spanish prime minister, in Madrid on Tuesday night.
Around 7,000 people gathered near the Socialist Party (PSOE) building for the fourth time in the past five nights in protest at the Spanish government’s plan to let off hundreds of Catalans involved in the region’s illegal attempt to secede from Spain in 2017 and in subsequent unrest.
Mr Sánchez’s amnesty offer is in return for Catalan parties propping up the government after inconclusive general election results.
Bottles and flares were thrown at riot police, who used rubber bullets to push back protesters threatening to force their way through a barrier. Some demonstrators were seen being arrested but the police have not said how many.
Mr Sánchez said that the violent protests “will not break the PSOE”. He said his effort to negotiate political support for a new term in office by offering Catalan pro-independence parties an amnesty is worthwhile to bring “social progress and harmony” to Spain.
Conservative and hard-Right opposition leaders blamed Mr Sánchez for the violence.
On Monday night police had used tear gas against protestors in similar circumstances. The main opposition Popular Party (PP) said this was an overreaction that the police had been “forced into by the Socialist government”.
After Tuesday night’s violence, PP leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo said that Mr Sánchez was responsible for the anger on the streets but added that protesters should be well behaved.
Santiago Abascal, leader of the far-Right Vox party, blamed Mr Sánchez’s government for planning to pardon Catalan “terrorism” and interior minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska for giving “political orders to charge and gas peaceful protesters on Monday”.
At one point on Tuesday night a group of protesters split away and marched through central Madrid towards parliament, where police barred their path to the Congress building.
Negotiations on the amnesty continue between Mr Sánchez’s Left-wing coalition government and Carles Puigdemont, the former Catalan leader who declared the region’s independence before fleeing to Brussels to serve as an MEP.
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