Spain's far-right Vox lead mass protests against government
The Spanish far-right rallies tens of thousands all over the country in mass protests against the leftist government and its policies.
Spanish far-right party Vox rallied tens of thousands of its supporters nationwide on Sunday to protest against Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's left-wing government.
According to the police, some 25,000 people gathered in central Madrid's Colon Square, where protesters carried flags and demanded that Sanchez step down. Meanwhile, protests were taking place all over the country, with people flocking to the streets of various cities.
The party's leader, Santiago Abascal, denounced the government for being one "of treason, insecurity, and ruin," after Madrid recently made amendments to the national criminal code and approved a new law against sexual violence.
The law against sexual violence made the penalties for rape harsher while easing the sentences for other sexual crimes, setting some convicts free after their jail terms were reduced.
Meanwhile, Abascal went on to denounce the government's plans to abolish sedition, of which nine separatist leaders were convicted over their alleged role in Catalonia's abortive secession bid five years ago. The crime will be replaced by an offense that holds a shorter prison sentence.
"We have a government that governs against the people, lowers prison sentences for crimes, disarms the police," the far-right leader told his followers in Madrid.
Vox, and the rest of the right alongside it, believe that the amended criminal code, which should be ratified by the end of the year, would encourage separatists in Catalonia to make further bids to secede from Spain.
"We are being governed by separatists, people who don't want to be Spanish, that's why I'm here," one protestor said before accusing the government of buying the people's votes.
Sexual assaults doubled since Sanchez took the premiership in 2018, Abascal claimed, denouncing the aforementioned law and alleging that it would allow rapists and pedophiles to have shorter prison sentences and thus leave prison earlier.
In light of the far-right's protests about amendments to laws and the government "buying votes", people in Spain are queuing up for food aid all over the country after it became the only way to survive the skyrocketing inflation that has hit Spain, leaving food prices reaching an all-time high and incomes down to an extreme low.
The National Statistics Institute, an independent administrative autonomous institution, recorded a 15.4% increase in food prices in October - the biggest in nearly 30 years - as farmers struggle with energy prices jumping 77% due to the energy crisis exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.
Despite the fact that Spain possesses six liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities for refining gas that arrives by sea from the Iberian peninsula, which would facilitate the EU to boost its imports, it has only two low-capacity pipelines reaching France's gas hub, which connect to the rest of the continent.
Over 13 million residents in Spain are on the verge of living below the poverty line according to the independent charitable organization Oxfam, as the poorest households are most vulnerable to the impact of inflation.
In light of the crisis, the Spanish government has attempted to relieve people of the conditions by investing billions of Euros in extra welfare, backed by premier Sanchez's introduction of an additional €3 billion ($2.9 billion) in government aid to ease energy bills.
Subsidies for transport and a 15% increase in pensions for those affected the most have also been implemented, but according to charities, these amounts are inadequate - "hunger queues" continue to build up outside food banks.
In a study conducted this year by the University of Barcelona, one in seven households has insufficient access to food as a result of low income, leaving single mothers, families with children, and the elderly relying on state aid and having to resort to food banks and eventually skipping meals to survive.
Although food banks in Spain are meant to cover over 1.35 million people, they continue to struggle to supply them as global food and fuel costs keep going upwards.