Waving Spanish flags, Vox supporters protest against Madrid lockdown

MADRID (Reuters) - Waving flags from cars and honking horns, supporters of Spain’s far-right Vox party protested on Monday against a partial lockdown imposed on Madrid to contain one of Europe’s worst coronavirus outbreaks.

“Viva España! Government resign!”, cried hundreds of supporters as they filled Madrid’s main thoroughfare and the party staged smaller demonstrations in Barcelona and Seville.

Sunday’s protest escalated a standoff between Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and the conservative-led Madrid regional government, on which Vox holds 12 of 132 seats, and which argues that the government’s curbs are illegal and excessive and will spell disaster for the local economy.

“I have come to protest because I am fed up with the management of the pandemic, not only with health but with the economy. I am not a Vox supporter, but we have to protest somehow,” said Lola Abad, 55, an administrator who attended the Madrid demonstration.

King Felipe VI, accompanied by members of the government, marked the National Day public holiday on Monday in Madrid with only 520 soldiers instead of the normal parade of several thousand troops because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Today is National Day and they will not let us go and celebrate, especially not in Madrid because of the state of alarm but I still don’t know what the criteria they decreed it,” said Manuel Sanchez, 46, a lawyer.

The Madrid region had 724 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in the two weeks to Oct. 9, according to the World Health Organization, making it Europe’s third densest cluster after Andorra and Brussels.

The Spanish regions of Catalonia and Navarre imposed new restrictions on working and public gatherings on Sunday after rises in COVID-19 cases.

Spain said on Friday it had recorded 861,112 coronavirus cases - the highest number in Western Europe - and 32,929 deaths.

Reporting by Graham Keeley, additional reporting by Elena Rodriguez, Guillermo Martinez, Juan Medina, editing by Ed Osmond