Spain's 'indignants' vow to rally, defy protest ban

31st October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Spain's "indignant" protesters have vowed to defy a pre-election ban on rallies at more than 100 sites in Madrid, including the Puerta del Sol square where their movement was born.

The activists, angered by state spending cuts that hurt ordinary people, high unemployment and political corruption, have called for a nationwide protest a week ahead of the November 20 general election.

Protesters said they were considering a route on November 13 that would lead from outside Madrid's central Atocha railway station to the major squares of Cibeles and Puerta del Sol, all now banned sites.

On Twitter and Facebook, some activists also called for a rally in the Puerta del Sol on November 19, a day of "reflection" ahead of the vote in which political action is usually banned.

Madrid's regional government proclaimed on October 12 more than 100 spots as "public places reserved for the free realization of campaign acts," effectively banning protests there.

The Madrid region's election authority added scores of public places -- including the Puerta del Sol -- to the list when compared either to the last general elections in 2008 or to regional elections on May 22 this year.

The election committee's decision was "contradictory," complained a statement by protest organisers Asamblea Sol (Sol Assembly).

"If citizens should of course hear the parties' messages, it is also a time for the parties to listen to the citizens from whom, we fear, they are so separated," it said.

The Spanish protest movement was born on May 15 when a rally in Puerta del Sol sparked a protest that spread internationally.

They rallied tens of thousands in the square on the eve of Spain's May 22 local elections, in which the ruling Socialists were crushed by the conservative Popular Party.

A similar outcome is expected in the general elections on November 20, with opinion polls giving a commanding lead to the Popular Party over the Socialists.

© 2011 AFP

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