Spain's 'indignants' rally a week ahead of election

13th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

Hundreds of Spain's "indignant" protesters marched through the streets of Madrid Sunday to protest spending cuts, high unemployment and political corruption, a week before a general election.

They began their march from outside Madrid's central Atocha railway station and then made their way to the major squares of Cibeles and Puerta del Sol, walking behind a large banner that read "Change the Model Now!".

"I am protesting against our electoral system which discriminates against small parties and favours bipartism," said 24-year-old Juan, who came to the rally from the Madrid suburb of Pinto and who declined to give his last name.

"No to the dictatorship of banks" and "No to corrupt officials" were among the signs on dispay.

Political columnist Josep Ramoneda said the "indignant" protesters have had little influence on the campaign because the conservative opposition Popular Party have a wide lead over the ruling Socialists in the opinion polls.

"In this campaign they have little weight but it is a very peculiar campaign because in reality it is a false campaign, the dice have been cast, everyone knows what the result will be and as a result people are following the campaign with little interest," said Ramoneda, who is not part of the movement.

Spain's so-called "indignant" protest movement was born when thousands of people set up camp in Madrid's Puerta del Sol square ahead of May 22 municipal elections.

A vast ramshackle protest 'village' in the square that included everything from a canteen to a kindergarten and a library was dismantled by demonstrators under pressure from the authorities.

But members of the movement have since staged regular, overwhelmingly peaceful protests that in some cases draws tens of thousands.

They have also staged regular "popular assemblies" in many neighbourhoods where issues are debated and proposals are put forward to attempt to affect change at the local level.

In Barcelona about 30 members of the movement decided at an assembly Saturday to camp out in the Plaza de Catalunya until the general election on November 20.

They have also set up an "information point" in the square on voting options and the workings of the political system, but without advising on which party to pick.

Last month Madrid's regional government proclaimed over 100 spots as "public places reserved for the free realization of campaign acts", including Atocha, Cibeles and Puerta del Sol, the scene of Sunday's protest by the "indignants".

The move means if a political party requests to use one of the spots, no other rallies or protests can be held there.

© 2011 AFP

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