Protest over Spanish PM's talks with Catalan parties

Spain Conservatives Populists Rally Against Pro Open Borders Socialist Govt		PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU  AFP  Getty Images10 Feb 2019

Spain Conservatives Populists Rally Against Pro Open Borders Socialist Govt PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU AFP Getty Images10 Feb 2019

Organisers said over 200,000 people took part on the rally held under the slogan "For a united Spain".

The protests come just a few days before the trial of Catalan independence leaders who allegedly spearheaded the failed secession bid in Spain in 2017.

"The time of Sanchez's government has ended", Popular Party leader Pablo Casado told reporters before the protest. Calls for Sanchez's resignation were made by the protesters who collected at the Plaza de Colon here on February 10.

The opposition has called for early elections. But those parties have said their vote for the budget is conditional on the Catalan talks including the issue of independence, something the government will not include.

Recent opinion polls have shown the conservative Popular Party, center-right Ciudadanos and far-right Vox could together win a majority of seats in parliament if elections were held, allowing them to replace the Socialist government.

"We are here to say NO to separatism and YES to Spain, it's enough!" They claim that Sanchez must resign for holding talks with separatists in the northeastern region of Catalonia.

Around 45,000 people attended, officials said.

Sanchez came to power in June with the support of Catalan nationalist parties, which voted with him in a no confidence motion against former Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, whose PP was embroiled in a corruption scandal.

Opposition leaders in Madrid are seeing Sanchez's proposal - to appoint a rapporteur for negotiations across political parties to address the situation in Catalonia - as treason, reports Sputnik.

The right wing parties accused the government of treachery over the move.

"And what I am doing now as prime minister, always respecting the constitution, is to solve a national crisis to which the Popular Party has contributed", Sanchez said.

Sánchez is facing opposition on both sides as he attempts to pass through his government's proposed budget next Wednesday.

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. If Sanchez is unable to approve his budget, he could call elections before his term is over in 2020.