Thousands of young Spaniards angry over high unemployment have defied a ban to demonstrate in Madrid and other cities, calling for a boycott of the political establishment in Sunday’s local elections.
The protests continued into Wednesday evening. Many had demonstrated all day after camping out in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol, prompting comparisons with the rallies in Cairo that caused the downfall of Egypt’s President Mubarak.
There are calls for people not to vote for the ruling Socialists or centre-right opposition the Partido Popular.
“We called the protest (despite the ban) because we believe it’s a peaceful civil disobedience movement. And if we have to choose between legality and justice, we choose justice, and that means carrying on with this rally,” said one man.
“If they ban it it means they’re afraid, but of what? Of people who’re demonstrating freely and peacefully? I don’t understand,” said a young woman.
“What they’re doing by banning us is trying to shut us up in order to favour the bi-party system,” said another man.
Demonstrations have taken place in several other major cities, including Barcelona, Valencia, Granada and Bilbao. Outside Catalonia and the Basque Country voters have few alternatives to the two main parties.
Youth unemployment in Spain stands at 45 per cent yet many feel the problem is not being taken seriously enough.
Politicians from both have been implicated in corruption scandals in their strongholds, causing fury at a time when Spain is cutting spending to try to avoid becoming another international bailout case.