October 12, 2016 - 8:56 AM
MADRID - Almost a year into Spain's political deadlock, the country is celebrating its National Day with a military parade of more than 3,000 soldiers marching through Madrid and aircraft drawing trails of red and yellow smoke in the sky to represent the flag.
Spectators defied the sporadic rain on Wednesday and lined the streets of central Madrid as King Felipe VI presided over the parade, accompanied by Queen Letizia and their daughters, princesses Leonor and Sofia.
This the first parade to be celebrated without a government in place, as the country approaches a year of political gridlock.
There were several notable absences of separatist political figures like Catalonia regional president Carles Puigdemont and Basque regional president Inigo Urkullu.
Leftist Podemos party leader Pablo Iglesias also skipped the celebrations, saying on a video on his Twitter account that "there is a lot of hypocrisy among those who give themselves medals for attending a parade but turn their back on the country every day."
He added that "patriots don't have accounts in fiscal paradises," referring specifically to former Minister of Industry Manuel Soria, who resigned from his post in April after being linked with an offshore company in the Panama Papers leak, but alluding to the conservative Popular Party's recent corruption scandals.
Conservative acting prime minister Mariano Rajoy attended the event and tweeted that it was an honour.
In the northeastern city of Barcelona, several thousand people held gatherings in favour of and in opposition to the National Day.
Oct. 12 is known as Dia de la Hispanidad, or Hispanic Day, and celebrates Christopher Columbus' arrival in the New World. The day was declared Spain's national day in 1987.
News from © The Associated Press, 2016