Defeat For Spanish Socialists As Protests Rage On.

Posted: May 25, 2011 in Europe, International, Spain

Spain’s ruling Socialist Party took a battering in elections last Sunday. Amid anger at the failing economy, the centre-right Popular Party (PP) won 37% of the vote to the Socialists’ 28%, and nearly all the 13 regions up for grabs. Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero conceded defeat but ruled out early general elections. There was a shock result in the Basque country, where a new radical separatist alliance beat the Socialists.

Meanwhile, thousands of young protesters remain camped out in squares across the country. What began as a sit-in in Madrid’s central Puerta del Sol square a week ago has turned into a national protest movement popularly known as 15-M. About 30,000 people were estimated to have occupied the central square in the run-up to the vote. The protests, which have also taken place in cities including Barcelona, Valencia, Seville and Bilbao, have so far been peaceful. Demonstrators defied a government ban on political protests on the eve of the election. On Sunday, protesters in Puerta del Sol voted to stay in the square until at least 29 May.

In Barcelona, health workers, bus drivers, communication workers and firefighters organised in independent unions have taken part in the protests, but it has been young people at the centre of the struggle—as they suffer high rates of unemployment and attacks on education as a consequence of the government’s cost-cutting.

The power of young people in such movements is not a new thing, in France in 2005, school and college students joined workers on the streets fighting for their pensions and against the appalling CPE employment law. In Greece, students and young people have made up big parts of the general strike demonstrations and have occupied their universities. In Britain, the student movement and the occupation of Tory HQ at Millbank last year changed the pace of the fightback against the government. And in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Libya and Yemen, young people are at the heart of the resistance to their rulers. In every country, the people fighting for a better world take inspiration from each other.

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