Magazine article New Internationalist

Spain's Slow-Burning Revolution

Magazine article New Internationalist

Spain's Slow-Burning Revolution

Article excerpt



A turbulent summer in debtsqueezed Europe saw Greeks lay siege to parliament and teenagers loot London shops. But when Spaniards came to register their discontent last spring, they came armed only with sleeping bags. It all began on 15 May when an obscure Facebook group called a protest ahead of local elections, to challenge a depressing two-party monopoly.

The public response was overwhelming. Battered by soaring youth unemployment and deep welfare cuts, tens of thousands of Spaniards poured into plazas across the country. They were calling for ''Democracia Real ?aG (Real Democracy Now!) and chanted slogans such as 'no house, no pension, no job - no fear! ' Their demands read like a comprehensive wish-list for a fairer society, with a manifesto that attacked political corruption, unjust market-led solutions to the crisis and economic inequality.

While the turnout was impressive, no-one could have guessed it would spark a peaceful movement of Tahririnspired sleep-ins and popular assemblies. Improvised camps shot up and sandwich-assembly lines were set in motion. The local elections that had sparked the protest came and went. I But the protesters - young and old, leftwing or non-aligned - resisted pressure from the courts, politicians and police, and stayed on. The camp in Madrid's Plaza de Sol lasted 78 days, while the last stragglers hung on in Malaga until mid-August. The protesters came to be known as the 'indignants' or 'outraged'.

The movement was christened the '15M' after its birthday. …

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