Massive Protests Spread Through Spain

Youth "revolution" may be a harbinger for Europe

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A ban against protests did nothing to stop nearly 30,000 young protesters across Spain in the largest protests to rock the country since the 2008 recession, the New York Times reports.

The movement, called "los indignados" (the indignant), began on May 15th, and spread through Spain on account of mounting frustrations regarding the economic crisis, which has left the unemployment rate at 21 percent. Among those under the age of 25, the unemployment rate stood at 43.5 percent as of February -- the highest youth unemployment rate in the European Union, according to Alan Taylor at The Atlantic.

A ban on the protest went into effect at midnight Friday, due to rules that end campaigning before regional and municipal elections on Sunday. The Popular Party, Spain's main center-right opposition, is expected to sweep the election, taking power from the currently governing Socialists. In any event, the Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero already agreed in April not to seek a third term. There is a general election next March.

So far the protests have not generated any violence, and the government suggested that it would not order the police to use force to break up any protests and sit-ins in Madrid and elsewhere.

Apart from economic considerations, the protesters demand improvements to the judiciary, an end to political corruption, and a redesign of Spain’s electoral system, in which candidates are selected internally by the parties before an election rather than by voters. "We are tired. In short, we want a working democracy. We want a change," a Spanish reader told BBC.

This so-called "Spanish Revolution" may also be a sign of things to come for the rest of Europe. Guardian reports that the tag #italianrevolution is a trend on Twitter. While Italy so far is not in the same position as Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Ireland, its economy has barely grown in the past 10 years and there is increasing frustration with Silvio Berlusconi.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.