Retired generals call for coup to eject Spain’s Socialist PM

Pedro Sanchez is sworn into office during a ceremony at Zarzuela Palace in Madrid
Pedro Sanchez is sworn into office during a ceremony at the Zarzuela Palace in Madrid on Friday - Andres Ballesteros/Reuters
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A group of retired military officers in Spain have called for an army coup against the prime minister after Pedro Sánchez secured a new term through a controversial amnesty for Catalan separatists.

In a letter, 51 retired officers ask “those responsible for the defence of constitutional order for the dismissal of the prime minister and the calling of general elections”.

Mr Sánchez’s Socialist Party came second in July’s elections, but he managed to cobble together sufficient support from hard-Left and regional parties to win approval from the majority in Congress.

Taking the oath before King Felipe VI at the Zarzuela Palace near Madrid on Friday, Mr Sánchez was sworn in again as prime minister of Spain, a military dictatorship until 1975.

The call for Mr Sánchez’s removal from power came in an open letter published on Friday on the website of the AME association of Spanish armed forces members. It is supported by 51 retired officers, according to digital newspaper infoLibre, but their names were not published with the text.

The officers denounced Mr Sánchez for encroaching on judicial independence and flouting the constitutional principle of equality between Spaniards by favouring Catalans with a generalised pardon for criminal acts.

Rebel officers discussed ‘killing 26 million’

Reportedly, the 51 signatories include some who were investigated over the contents of a WhatsApp chat in 2020 that discussed ousting Mr Sánchez, even though this might mean having “to kill 26 million sons of bitches”. No charges were brought.

That same year more than 70 retired officers sent a letter to King Felipe, encouraging him to intervene in Spain’s political situation.

During the parliamentary debate for Thursday’s vote, Right-wing politicians accused Mr Sánchez of damaging democracy by presenting an amnesty for Catalans who committed crimes during the region’s failed effort to separate from Spain in 2017.

Alberto Núñez Feijóo, conservative People’s Party leader, accused Mr Sánchez of “buying” the support of Catalans and perpetrating an “electoral fraud” as Spaniards had not voted for an amnesty.

Prior to the elections, Mr Sánchez had stated his belief that such an amnesty would be unconstitutional.

Santiago Abascal of the far-Right Vox party accused Mr Sánchez of staging a “coup d’état” that would one day see him face criminal proceedings of his own.

On Thursday protestors marked two weeks of nightly demonstrations outside the Socialist Party’s Madrid headquarters, in which dozens have been arrested and injured as demonstrators battle with police guarding the building.

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