Barcelona Protests & Elections
It's been a big week in the history of Spanish politics, and those following the international press would have read reports of mass protests, starting in Madrid's Puerta del Sol square and spreading to Placa Catalunya in Barcelona and other major Spanish cities.
The protesters were campaigning for 'a true democracy' with more transparency, citizen participation and no more unpopular social cuts in the lead up to Sunday's local and regional elections. They are driven by the current government's poor handling of the economic crisis which is still gripping Spain. Unemployment is 20% around the country, but closer to 50% in young people. Meanwhile the government has ushered in a strict cutting back of the nation's previously generous social benefits.
In Barcelona the protests have formed mainly a sit down in Placa Catalunya. Using social media, and promoting the trending topic #spanishrevolution on Twitter, pirate political parties have managed to organise effective camps and prevent police from pushing them off the central square. Meanwhile all around the city the sound of citizens banging their saucepans from their balcony as a collective protest could also be heard.
Amidst all these protests there were municipal and regional elections taking place - 10 months before the next general elections. The results went overwhelming with the rightwing PP (People's party), who secured a huge stranglehold on Spanish political power with 38% of the vote to 28% to Zapatero's PSOE party. It was the worst election defeat of 30 years in Spain, which even saw the PSOE concede Barcelona.
Despite voters ushering a change around the country unrest continues amongst many Spaniards who believe neither the PP or PSOE represent them, and protests are expected to continue.