«What is the King of Spain going to do from now on? Are you going to sign those pardons? ” Isabel Díaz Ayuso’s questions during the run-up to the concentration in the Plaza de Colón remained in the air. A protest that was not as massive as that of two years ago, but enough to fill the spacious square and some surrounding streets, especially that of Genoa.
The president of the Community of Madrid, the leader most cheered along with Santiago Abascal, raised her questions and added another to blame Pedro Sánchez for the alleged breach for Felipe VI: “Are they going to make him an accessory to that?” Pablo Casado, by his side at the doors of the PP headquarters, did not blink. And it is that this question has been around for a long time among popular leaders. On May 26, a source close to the PP leader stated “it cannot be that the Government makes the King of Spain sign this” and made Sánchez “responsible” for placing the head of state in that position.
A dilemma that is not such because the Constitution states in its article 61 that it is up to the King to sign “the decrees agreed upon in the Council of Ministers,” and the pardons will be decrees. In that same section it is stated that it is up to the monarch to “exercise the right of grace in accordance with the law.” There are no known precedents in Spain (there was in Belgium) that the Head of State has refused to ratify a decision of the Council of Ministers.
Ayuso’s was an unexpected statement in an atypical protest. Convened by a civic platform, Unión 78, and fed to varying degrees by the opposition parties. Vox threw the house out the window, chartered buses, and went to his address in full. The PP participated with the brake on, did not mobilize its militants and Casado appeared surrounded by his leaders in Madrid, Ayuso and the mayor José Luis Martínez Almeida, but without the company of his territorial barons. Not even citizens, Inés Arrimadas and a handful of orange leaders were in their personal capacity. The three leaders neither greeted each other, each one was at one point of the rally, nor took photos, as in 2019. Married neither stepped on the square, and even so he had to hear the odd boo. A “Pablo Casado, you have abandoned us” interrupted his statements on Genova Street. Arrimadas also took hers: “Traitor, you have two news programs left.”
But the leaders of the PP and Ciudadanos could not miss in the protest against pardons that, according to polls, have the majority rejection of society, and leave all the leading role to Vox. Even so, Abascal was the political winner of the day. He was in the square, he took photos with half the world, he was seen near the stage, where the writer Mario Vargas Llosa and the PP deputy Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo were also, who did not stop receiving support from the attendees .
The event, which began an hour late due to problems with the public address system, did not explode Colón like two years ago. 25,000 attendees calculated the Government Delegation, which estimated the influx of 2019 at 45,000. The newspaper ‘El País’ rose to 60,000 and the Municipal Police of Martínez Almeida spoke of 126,000 people. It was not a puncture, but there were fewer people than in the previous edition. An understandable lower participation if one takes into account that it was a canicular Sunday in Madrid and that the PP did not move its parish.
The ambient heat rose a few degrees among those gathered with the fiery speech of Rosa Díez, who as the visible head of Unión 78 closed the act. “A government that insults, as it has insulted more than half the country today, calling it the extreme right, is not a government for everyone but is exclusive, sectarian and dangerous,” claimed the former leader of the PSOE and former leader of UPyD. And he continued: “We have united citizens of all ideas, origins and creeds to stop the drift of an inept, parasitic and authoritarian government and to say loud and clear enough is enough!” Diez also warned the Government that yesterday’s will not be the only response from “the good people” to the pardons because “we will return here and in other squares in Spain, whenever it is necessary to go out to the streets to defend democracy. Before her spoke the writer Andrés Trapiello and Yeray Mellado, leader of the Catalan constitutional organization S’ha acabat, who had to settle for lukewarm applause.
The leaders of the PP, Vox and Ciudadanos did not take the stage, they limited themselves to a few brief previous statements that were a bid to criticize the Prime Minister. Married, before the headquarters of the PP, he challenged Sánchez “to look at the face” of the Spaniards and explain to them why he “sells” the unit of Spain in order to continue in Moncloa. Abascal, in the square, next to the statue of Blas de Lezo, said that he was “not ashamed of any photo” only that of Sánchez with “communism, coup separatism and terrorists.” Arrimadas, at the National Library, accused Sánchez of being a “liar.”
The protest closed with the national anthem sung by a trumpeter amidst deathly silence.