Tens of thousands of Spaniards took to the streets of Madrid to denounce a proposed amnesty law for Catalan separatists and activists, which was key for the left-wing government to retain power.
Around 170,000 people, according to police, gathered in Plaza Cibeles in the heart of the Spanish capital where typically Real Madrid fans celebrate victories, in response to a call by right wing leaders to protest.
Cries of "Sanchez, traitor", "Sanchez in jail" and "Catalonia is Spain" could be heard from protesters of all ages who carried Spanish and other European flags distributed by the right wing European People's Party.
"What Pedro Sanchez wants is to cut Spain into pieces," said protester Maria Angeles Galan, a 65-year-old retiree from Madrid, "to have the Basque country on one side and Catalonia on the other, and to say nothing happened."
"Controversial amnesty bill"
Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, in power since 2018, came second in July parliamentary elections behind right-wing leader Alberto Nunez Feijoo, but managed to be reinstated after negotiating support from regionalist groups including Catalan pro-independence parties.
In exchange for their votes that were essential to reach a majority, he accepted several concessions including the adoption of the controversial amnesty bill for separatist leaders and activists who were prosecuted for their involvement in Catalonia's 2017 secession attempt.
"I think that the fight starts now," said Mariana, who did not want to provide her surname, a 51-year-old entrepreneur at the protest.
Luis Garrido, 65, who called himself a "socialist but not a Sanchist", said the prime minister should not have accepted "this price".
"I don't want Spain to sink" and be "divided in this way", he said.
The crowd gathered around midday and dispersed peacefully after speeches were made.
Demonstrations have been held every day for the past two weeks in front of the Socialist Party headquarters in Madrid, some of which have degenerated and led to dozens of arrests.