Europe for citizens, not for bankers!

Submitted by Matthew on 9 July, 2011 - 5:33

Some say that the recent protests in Spain are similar to the upheavals in the Arab world.

Much of the agitation has come from the 15 May movement, a “movimiento de indignados”.

They advocate more participation by the ordinary people in government. They cite the pernicious influence of banks and major corporations. They have a slogan “No somos marionetas en manos de politicos y banqueros” — roughly, “We aren't puppets in the hands of politicians and bankers”.

From as early as March this year, student unions have been holding demonstrations in centres like Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia, attracting the attention of many teenagers, especially migrants.

Many young people are unhappy with the high unemployment (about 20.7% in Spain as a whole but 42% amongst young people), low wages, and budget cuts in the education sector.

They blame the Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, both of the two major parties, and even the trade unions. The secretary of the Student Union says that they have as many as a million young people in search of jobs, and countless others trapped in jobs that pay badly.

The major concern in many of these protests has been education. The protesters also cited the conflict in the Arab world, the military intervention in Libya (which they see as imperialist), and the unhealthy capitalist influence in government thanks to Zapatero “selling out”.

Another complaint has been police brutality. On 4 July, peaceful protesters camped out in several cities were evicted by police. An early protest called for less money to be spent on police (referring to the expenditure on security during the visit of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall to Madrid) and more money to be spent on education.

These people are leftists in traditional terms but reject the the two-party system as controlled by the PSOE (Partido Socialista Obrero Espanol: social democrats) and the conservative PP (Partido Popular).

This cannot be seen as a genuine awakening of a leftist revolution for Spain and the rest of Europe, but rather an unfocused complaint from frustrated people whose government has failed them dramatically.

The slogan is “Democracia Real Ya” — real democracy now. One protest blogger, Damian Ruiz, has articulated what he believes “real democracy” is: “Real democracy is when people are consulted, are considered, are respected and not manipulated in the perverse social engineering created by political parties.” He then goes on to denounce the lack of consultation of the people in the government's important decisions.

According to the Real Democracy website, they want Europe to be for its citizens, not just for businessmen.

Molly Thomas

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