Major protests expected in Spanish cities

Tuesday, December 18, 2012
By Paul Martin

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to pack the streets of Spanish cities in evening protests against the conservative government’s anti-crisis austerity measures.

By Denise Roland
17 Dec 2012

The demonstrations on Monday have been called by the main labour unions and dozens of social groups. They are to take place in 55 cities, with the largest turnout expected in capital Madrid where union leaders will head up a march.

Cutbacks in health, education and pensions as well as labour and financial sector reforms have angered Spaniards and triggered protests by nearly every sector of society in recent years.
The demonstrations are the first coordinated ones since unions staged a partially successful general strike on November 14, and come just hours after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi insisted austerity is the right approach in Spain.

Mr Draghi, speaking to a committee of MEPs on Monday, said austerity was bound to bring contraction in the short term, but that government cuts and structural reforms were the route to growing exports, adding: “It’s been a year of painful progress [for Spain], but it’s still progress.”

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy has insisted the country does not require a bail-out from international lenders, ignoring calls from national daily newspaper El Pais, which urged Mr Rajoy to request financial aid.

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