Friday

6th Dec 2019

Ongoing protests rock Spain ahead of vote

  • Madrid rally. Almost half of 16 to 29 year olds in Spain do not have a job (Photo: Ametxa)

A wave of ongoing protests has shaken Spain's political establishment ahead of upcoming regional and municipal polls, with the country's electoral commission opting to ban further street action this weekend.

Concerns are also mounting that forecast losses for the ruling Socialist party could expose the true nature of the Spain's regional debt, after a government change in Catalonia five months ago revealed the region's budget deficit to be twice as big as previously estimated.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

The number of protesters camped out in Madrid's Puerta del Sol central square continued to swell on Thursday (19 May), with participants condemning the domination of Spain's two main political parties.

Anger at Spain's high level of youth unemployment - roughly 45 percent for 16 to 29 year-olds - and opposition to the recent wave of government austerity measures were also dominant themes among participants calling for change.

Initiated on Sunday by a group calling themselves 'Real Democracy Now', the protests have morphed into a larger 'May 15 movement', with street action also planned for Brussels this Friday evening.

Spain's electoral commission reacted by narrowly voting to ban further protests planned for this Saturday, a day before Spaniards go to the polls in thirteen regions accounting for 60 percent of the economy.

Forecasts predict a crushing defeat for the ruling Socialist party, amid perceptions that the government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has been slow to react to the financial crisis.

Traditional allies of the centre-left leader have also expressed their disenchantment, following a series of government-imposed spending cuts and labour reforms amid investor concerns over the health of Spain's economy.

Madrid has repeatedly stressed it will not need an international bail-out like Greece, Ireland and Portugal, amid doubts over whether the EU's arsenal of firefighting funds are big enough to prop up the eurozone's fourth largest economy.

Many economists say a change of government in Spanish regions and municipalities this weekend is likely to expose a pile of 'hidden debt' however, adding billions of euros to current official debt figures.

"Investors are worried about the regions, given that there has a been precedent in Spain and other countries of debt not being recorded properly," Luigi Speranza, a BNP Paribas economist, told the Wall Street Journal.

ECB warning

Trouble in other eurozone 'periphery' states saw the ECB issue a warning to Greece this week, amid increasingly speculation that Athens may be forced to restructure its debt.

The Frankfurt-based central bank threatened to end its supply of emergency funding to Greek banks if Athens decided to alter the repayment terms on Greek sovereign bonds.

"A sovereign debt restructuring would undermine the eligibility of Greek government bonds," ECB chief economist Juergen Stark said on Wednesday. "A continuation of liquidity provisions would be impossible."

The ECB currently allows Greek banks to borrow funds using Greek sovereign bonds as collateral, despite their 'junk' status which would normally disqualify them.

Migrants paying to get detained in Libyan centres

A trend has emerged over the past few months where desperate people are paying to get locked up in Libyan detention centres to escape the conflict and with the hope they stand a better chance of getting resettled to Europe.

Magazine

Searching for solidarity in EU asylum policy

The European Parliament's civil liberties committee offers a snapshot of the European "state of mind", says its chair Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar. Its biggest challenge will be getting member states to unblock the EU asylum package.

Timmermans warns on cost of inaction on climate

The Green Deal commissioner, Frans Timmermans, said the costs of inaction in climate policy are "tremendously high". However, it is still unclear if member states will unanimously agree on the EU's 2050 climate-neutrality goal at next week's summit.

This is the (finally) approved European Commission

MEPs gave the green light to the entire new European Commission during the plenary session in Strasbourg - but with the abstention of the Greens and a rejection by the leftist group GUE/NGL.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. Migrants paying to get detained in Libyan centres
  2. Searching for solidarity in EU asylum policy
  3. Will Michel lead on lobbying transparency at Council?
  4. Blood from stone: What did British PR firm do for Malta?
  5. EU Commission defends Eurobarometer methodology
  6. Timmermans warns on cost of inaction on climate
  7. Development to fuel change
  8. Does EU have role in stopping backsliding in Georgia?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us