Fervour ebbing at Madrid anti-crisis protests

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Protests in Madrid over the economic crisis which had transfixed the nation for more than a week have lost some of their momentum since last weekend's elections, organisers admitted Wednesday.

Although the 'alternative village' in Madrid's central Puerta del Sol square continues to expand, the number of demonstrators that gather every evening at the site is declining from the tens of thousands that showed up last weekend.

"The spirit remains but participation is down a bit after the euphoria at the start," said a spokesman for the organisers, Pablo Prieto.

"We can work better, organise ourselves so that the movement continues even if it is not at the Puerta del Sol camp," he said.

The canteens, daycare, pharmacy, press centre and other facilities remain at the ramshackle camp, under blue plastic tarpaulins. New 'zones' include a "feminist information point."

The organisers have decided to stay on until at least Sunday.

"After that, we will not have stopped," said Prieto, an unemployed biologist.

"The idea is to create assemblies in all districts of Madrid to spread our ideas for a fairer system of democracy."

The protest camp was timed to coincide with Sunday's regional and local elections, which delivered a heavy blow to Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's ruling Socialist Party.

The protesters describe themselves as "the indignant", and are known variously as "M-15" in reference to their demonstration's birth date of May 15, "Spanish Revolution" and "Real Democracy Now".

The spontaneous popular protests, slickly organized via Twitter and Facebook, were the largest since Spain's property bubble collapsed in 2008 destroying millions of jobs.

© 2011 AFP

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