Saturday

25th Mar 2017

Anti-austerity protests in Spain turn violent

  • Riot police in Madrid fired rubber bullets into the crowd (Photo: Fotomovimiento)

Protesters clashed with riot police on the streets of Madrid on Tuesday (25 September) as Spain braces itself for a fresh round of spending cuts linked to a potential bailout.

Thousands of people marched toward the Spanish parliament asking for the government to resign.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The initially peaceful demonstration turned violent when protesters tried to tear down barricades and threw rocks at riot police, which responded with rubber bullets. Police said at least 22 people were arrested and dozens injured.

Violent protests are new to Spain, where people have in the past taken to streets in peaceful rallies, as with the "indignados" movement.

The violence on Tuesday comes ahead of a fresh round of austerity measures to be unveiled on Thursday in what the European Commission has called an "upgrade" of spending cuts already announced earlier this year.

The Spanish government is trying to implement the new cuts in what is seen as a pre-emptive move, so that if or when it asks the eurozone to buy its bonds, the attached conditions will not go any further than demands to stick to its existing programme.

The European Central Bank (ECB) earlier this month announced it would buy unlimited amounts of bonds from countries under market pressure, but only if a formal request is made and a memorandum of understanding is signed on how reforms will be implemented.

Madrid has not yet formally requested such a move, but the fresh spending cuts are seen as an indication it will do so soon.

"The ECB action can only be the bridge to the future. The project must be completed through decisive actions by government both individually and collectively," ECB chief Mario Draghi said on Tuesday in Berlin.

Meanwhile, in Greece, trade unions have called for a general strike on Wednesday in the biggest protest action in five months.

Public services are to be shut down, including airports, ferries and trains. The strike is directed against €11.5 billion worth of spending cuts demanded by international lenders in return for the next tranche of the Greek bailout.

The final details of the cuts have still not been agreed, with trade unions rebelling against expected wage and pension cuts.

Similar anti-austerity protests took place also in Portugal last week, with the government forced to repeal a controversial move for employers to pay smaller social contributions and for workers to pay more.

Merkel surprisingly popular in Spain

Half of Spaniards approve of German leader Merkel's leadership in the euro-crisis, while blaming their own politicians for the economic gloom.

Spanish regions agree to deficit plan

Spain's regions have agreed to spending cuts designed to meet EU targets, with Prime Minister Rajoy ruling out reports that he will ask for a bailout this weekend.

SMEs lack support in EU financial plan

The European Commission's plan for a capital markets union is said to be aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises, but many could end up being left out in the cold.

Eurozone chief in 'drinks and women' row

[Updated] The Netherlands' Jeroen Dijsselbloem faces calls for resignation after saying that crisis-hit countries in southern Europe spent "money on drinks and women" before being helped by others.

Stolen Russian billions ended up in EU states

Illicit money flowing out of Russia ended up in almost every single EU state, an investigation has found, posing questions on the integrity of Europe’s banking systems.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  2. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  3. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  4. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  5. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  6. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  7. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  9. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans
  10. MEP Tomáš ZdechovskýThe European Commission Has Failed in Its Fight Against Food Waste
  11. ILGA-EuropeEP Recognises Discrimination Faced by Trans & Intersex People
  12. Nordic Council of Ministers25 Nordic Bioeconomy Cases for Sustainable Change