Protests as Spanish election campaign comes to an end
Pedro Sánchez visits Barcelona for last election rally, but Catalan independence supporters show up against his presence
The independence camp has responded with fresh protests against Spain’s acting president Pedro Sánchez’s trip to Barcelona to hold the last campaign rally before Sunday’s general election.
With Catalonia and its independence crisis arguably the most heated campaign issue, Sánchez’s visit to the Catalan capital was presented by the Socialist party as a sign of its leader’s commitment to addressing the issue if elected again as president — indeed, it’s the first time that a Spanish president ends an election campaign in Barcelona.
When Sánchez came to power in the summer of 2018, the support of pro-independence parties was instrumental in removing the conservative People’s Party from power. Their once-hopeful relationship, as Friday’s protests show, has deteriorated ever since.
Despite a right-wing defeat in last April’s election, Sánchez failed to garner enough support to form a new government — partly over his reticence to agree with left-wing Unidas Podemos, who are in favor of a referendum in Catalonia and against the imprisonment of independence leaders who backed a unilateral vote in 2017.
Sánchez hopes to gain a wider majority in the November 10 snap election, but polls suggest he will again have to depend on other parties — including Unidas Podemos and pro-independence groups — if he is to stay in power.