The second photo of Colón has been less crowded and with much less political prominence than the first. The convocation of the Union 78 platform to protest against possible pardons to the leaders of the you process cOndenados has brought together some 25,000 people, according to the Government Delegation, almost half of what the same source accounted for in 2019 – 45,000 – in the other march that repudiated the Executive’s negotiations with the Catalan independentists. The municipal police has offered another very distant estimate, 126,000 people, while the estimates made by this newspaper place attendance at 60,000. In 2019, the organizers had put it at 200,000. The leaders of the three parties that supported the concentration, PP, Vox and Ciudadanos, have avoided meeting. Moreover, in the case of the leader of the PP, Pablo Casado, has stayed at the entrance of the square, without getting fully into the crowd.
Married, accompanied by the president of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, and the mayor of the capital, José Luis Martínez Almeida, has walked the few meters that separate the headquarters of his party, on Genova street, from Plaza de Colón , and there he has stayed at the entrance, away from the central part of the concentration. Meanwhile, in the first row, the Vox followers took over the most visible positions, with flags, banners and a sticker that was repeated on the chests of many of the attendees: “Stop invasion. Defend Spain! ”. Vox’s staff has also paraded there, highly acclaimed by the audience, before retiring to a more discreet place. Among some of those present there have been sporadic cries against the leader of the PP: “Married, where is the master?”, “Married, you bastard, support the motion [de censura presentada por Santiago Abascal en octubre]”. Casado himself has heard some reprimands against him while making statements to the press, the same thing that has happened to the leader of Ciudadanos, Inés Arrimadas.
The only prominent leader of the PP who has been seen in the vicinity of the stage has been the parliamentary exporter Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo, a member of the convening platform. Arrimadas has also been located in a less visible place. While the iconography of Vox has stood out on masks, stickers or banners, the graphic claims of PP and Ciudadanos have been absent. The followers of the PP have only generally exhibited flags of Spain and have wrapped their leaders on the way to and from the nearby headquarters of the party.
Photogallery: The demonstration, in images
The tribune and the speeches were filled by the representatives of Unión 78, starting with the writer Andrés Trapiello and ending with the platform’s spokesperson, Rosa Díez. A breakdown in the public address services has forced a 50-minute wait, entertained by the constant sound of the Spanish anthem and shouts that, more than the pardons themselves, have focused on demanding the resignation of the Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, also the target of the attacks and insults on numerous banners.
Trapiello has presented the march as a “moral and political act” to bring together, he assured, people of all ideologies who only want to defend the “constitutional order of Spain.” The writer has criticized Sánchez for changing his opinion about the pardons and has taken the opportunity to maintain that the reasons for the protest do not concern only the right: “No one is a façade for saying the same thing the president said a few months ago.” “Here there are people from the right, but also from the center and left,” he added.
Rosa Díez started in a more rally tone: “All Spanish, thank you for being together! Good Spanish, thank you, we are the majority! ”. Diez has announced that demonstrations like this will be repeated in the coming weeks throughout Spain. “We are not going to allow our nation to give itself as payment to the big criminals so that Sánchez can sleep two more years in La Moncloa,” he said.
The three right-wing parties have returned to Colón more than two years after, on February 10, 2019, PP and Ciudadanos demonstrated and photographed themselves alongside Vox, then still an extra-parliamentary force. Since that day, the speeches of the left have never stopped shaking the image of the “trio of Columbus” to accuse their rivals of having been carried away by the strategy of the extreme right. This time the call for the demonstration has been very different. It did not start from the PP and Ciudadanos, as then, but from a civic platform, Unión 78, promoted by the ex-socialist and former UPyD leader Rosa Díez, together with intellectuals highly significant for their fight against peripheral nationalisms. Vox joined immediately and later, with some reluctance, the popular and the party of Inés Arrimadas. The position of the PP has been full of hesitations: neither has it mobilized its militants from outside Madrid nor has it made public calls to attend the protest. Only the popular people of Madrid have joined without fissures, while the other territorial barons located in more moderate positions – the presidents of Galicia, Andalusia and Castilla y León – have excused their absences.
The 2019 march to Colón was called after the announcement that the Government accepted the presence of an external rapporteur at the dialogue table with the Generalitat, a measure that raised a great deal of dust and that the Executive withdrew a few days later. In the manifesto read that February 10, it was already denounced that Sánchez had “yielded to the blackmail” of the independentistas and that he was negotiating his support for the State Budgets “in exchange for national sovereignty”. Nothing similar to the latter occurred, but similar accusations have been heard again this Sunday, now regarding the recognized intention of the Government to pardon those convicted by the you process.
The 2019 declaration ended up calling for the “immediate call for general elections”. It wasn’t long before those wishes were fulfilled. The Spanish were called to the polls on April 28, Sánchez came out the winner and the PP had the worst result in its history. Ciudadanos, on the other hand, hit a stretch and stood almost on a par with the popular ones, while Vox broke in with more than 10% of the votes. The elections were repeated in November and the great result of Ciudadanos suddenly evaporated until ending the career of its leader, Albert Rivera. The PP recovered at its expense and Vox made another important advance, to exceed 15%.
The aftermath of that episode has conditioned the strategies of the parties before the call for this Sunday. PP and Ciudadanos have not wanted to be left out of the protest against a measure that, according to polls, is rejected by a majority of Spaniards. But, at the same time, both have done everything possible to avoid a new photo with Vox due to the fear that the Abascal formation will capitalize on the discontent among the sectors of the right.