Agence France-Presse

Madrid: Protestors call for new elections, reject austerity measures

Spain's 'indignant' protesters take part in a demonstration to decry an economic crisis on Sept. 25, 2012 in Madrid. Spanish police blocked roads leading to parliament as dozens of demonstrators began to assemble in front of the barricades several hours ahead of the main rally.


Dominique Faget

Thousands of demonstrators "enraged with austerity cutbacks and tax hikes" protested against Spain's Congress on Tuesday, marching around parliament and calling for new elections, the Associated Press reported.

‘‘Get out!, Get out! They don’t represent us! Fire them!’’ protestors shouted, according to the AP.

The Interior Ministry delegation said 1,300 police would be on site, while the Associated Press described the parliament building as a "heavily guarded fortress."

One protestor, Carmen Rivero, told the Russian Times, “We think this is an illegal government. We want the parliament to be dissolved, a referendum and a constituent assembly so that the people can have a say in everything.”

Rivero was voicing what seems to be a popular sentiment — Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government tricked voters in November, and has betrayed their trust by furthering austerity measures.

Protestors chanted “Rescue democracy,” and “This is not a crisis, it’s a swindle,” the Russian Times reported.

Organizers called the protest "Surround Congress," and "Occupy Congress." 

Reuters reported that the protesters formed a human chain around parliament. Police responded by firing rubber bullets and beating protesters with truncheons when protesters tried to tear down barriers. According to the police, at least 22 people were arrested and at least 32 were injured, including four policemen.

Reuters noted that the protest, which was promoted by activist groups, was younger and rowdier than the recent marches organized by labor unions.

Spain is set to announce further austerity measures in a 2013 budget on Thursday. The debt ridden country, which suffers widespread unemployment, is struggling to reach its financial goals.

CNN Money reported on Aug. 31, "One out of every four citizens in Spain is unemployed," and "the unemployment rate for those under 25 years old is now approaching 53%." That's still true today.

According to Reuters, Spain is implementing austerity measures to reduce its debt.

"Spain has introduced austerity measures and economic reforms in a bid to convince its euro partners and investors that it is serious about reducing its bloated deficit to 6.3 percent of gross domestic product in 2012 and 4.5 percent next year."

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Tagged: EuropeSpain.