Young people are at the centre of the dramatic Spanish revolt that exploded a week before last Sunday’s municipal and regional elections.
Most young workers are on fixed-term contracts. These “disposable” jobs have been shed massively, leaving an astounding 43 percent of young people unemployed.
Many others have emigrated to find work.
Other frustrations include high rents, poor housing and attacks on education reforms.
Recently students held university occupations and coordinated protests for cheaper housing.
In April, young people marched under the slogan “No house, no job, no pension, no fear”.
The movement is also an angry response to the
It has made massive public spending cuts and raised the retirement age from 65 to 67—an increase opposed by 76 percent of Spanish people but shamelessly agreed to by the union leaderships.
These attacks saw the ruling Socialist Party’s vote crash in Sunday’s elections, allowing the conservatives to win without increasing their overall vote.
It suffered its worst local and regional election result under democracy and lost 1.5 million votes—polling just 27 percent.
Prime minister Jose Zapatero justified austerity by saying his “hands are tied” by the financial markets. This has encouraged a widespread view that there is no real democracy in Spain.
Those camped out in city squares are practising “participatory democracy” with constant mass meetings. I went to one involving 10,000 people!
Young people and workers showed they wanted to fight in September, participating in angry mass picketing during a general strike. But when the union leaders pulled the plug on the strike movement, people felt despondent.
Then came the Arab revolutions.
Millions saw young people successfully lead mass protests for democracy and against poverty. The Spanish camps were copied from Egypt’s Tahrir Square.
Bitterness towards the social-democratic politicians and union leaders gives the movement a very radical edge.
This represents a possible turning point for the struggle in Europe. Comparisons with the 1968 revolt are commonplace.
Out of the darkness a new radicalised generation is emerging—but this is not just a Spanish phenomenon.
It is the same generation that erupted in Tunisia and Egypt, and in the student protests in Britain. It carries immense hope for the future.
For more on Spain’s election results go to www.socialistworker.co.uk//art.php?id=24885