Spain: Thousands demand Pedro Sanchez resign

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

The rally was organized by the conservative opposition Popular Party (PP) and the center-right Citizens Party, with backing from the far-right party Vox.

Under the shadow of a huge Spanish flag that flies above the central Colon Square, the demonstrators waved their own smaller red and yellow versions of the same banner and held signs reading "Stop Sanchez".

Mr Sanchez, who came to power in June with the support of Catalan nationalist parties, defended his government's attempts at dialogue with Catalonia.

Even though Mr Sanchez has said he wants to see out the legislative term to 2020, a failure to win a budget vote will crank up the pressure on him to call for an early election.

Around 45,000 people attended, officials said.

The last straw was the government's proposal to appoint a rapporteur in talks among political parties to address the Catalan issue, as the move was decried by the opposition as a "betrayal" of Spain.

Ana Puente, a 73 year-old retiree, said she was protesting for a "united Spain".

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Sanchez's government broke off negotiations with the Catalan separatists on Friday, when Vice President Carmen Calvo said the separatists wouldn't budge from their demand for an independence referendum.

Raquel García, 76, who was carrying a Spanish flag, told the New York Times "the government is giving many things to supporters of Catalan independence and is going to break Spain apart".

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 unity of Spain means uniting Spaniards and not confronting them as the right wing is doing in Plaza de Colon today", he said. His minority government will need votes from the Catalan separatists and other parties to pass it.

If Sanchez fails to secure enough votes to pass the 2019 national budget, he may be forced to call snap polls.

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