‘Merkel Is Driving Europe into the Abyss’

Saturday, July 21, 2012
By Paul Martin


After Madrid passed a crushing new round of austerity measures on Thursday, the country erupted in widespread protests. Germany did its part to approve the Spanish banking bailout on the same day, but German editorialists question on Friday whether the aid will have the desired effect at home or abroad.

Spain may soon be getting aid for its troubled banking sector, but that appears to be of no comfort to the Spaniards. After Madrid passed another round of tough austerity measures on Thursday, tens of thousands took to the streets in some 80 cities around the country.

The protests, which reportedly saw some 100,000 demonstrators in Madrid alone, were called by the CCOO and UGT trade unions, which reject the government’s planned belt-tightening efforts. The two unions have threatened to call a general strike in September. Dozens of injuries and a handful of arrests were reported following scuffles with police.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative People’s Party (PP), which has an absolute majority in parliament, pushed the controversial plan to cut spending by some €65 billion ($80 billion) through parliament on Thursday, despite staunch resistance from the opposition.

The austerity measures include a significant boost in the value-added tax, the abolition of Christmas bonuses for state employees and cuts to unemployment payments. The deep reductions in state spending have been met with widespread resistance, with police officers, firefighters, soldiers, judges and public defenders all taking part in Thursday’s protests.

German Parliament Approves Bank Bailout

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