May 21st, 2011
Tens of thousands of Spaniards angry over joblessness protested for a sixth day on Friday in cities all over the country, and the government looked unlikely to enforce a ban on the demonstrations, fearing clashes.
Dubbed “los indignados” (the indignant), tens of thousands of protesters have filled the main squares of Spain’s cities for six days, in a wave of outrage over economic stagnation and government austerity marking a shift after years of patience.
As Spain’s electoral commission has stated that the demonstrations are now illegal ahead of Sunday’s elections, the protesters refuse to vacate:
“We are not going to budge from here,” said a 44-year-old unemployed man who declined to give his name, during an assembly at Puerta del Sol in central Madrid, where protesters reached an informal consensus to stay in the square despite the ban.
The man was among hundreds who have camped out all week at Puerta del Sol. His wife and daughter join him every day and the crowd swells to thousands every evening. “Our next move is to spread this to the rest of Europe,” he said.
Many protesters told Reuters that they are scared the police will crack down, but analysts said police action against the protesters would be a disaster for the Socialists.
The protesters have called on Spaniards not to vote for the two main parties, the Socialists or the center-right opposition Popular Party.
Spain has struggled to emerge from a recession, and the collapse of the construction sector and a slump in consumer spending have hit the young particularly hard — 45 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds are unemployed.
“They can’t kick us out. The politicians won’t allow it, it’ll make them look bad right before the voting,” said Virginia Braojos, 32, a logistics technician who has come with three friends to the protests every night this week.