Tens of thousands of people all over Spain have been participating in sit – in protests in the second half of May 2011, occupying the Puerta del Sol in Madrid and many other public buildings and places. They are protesting against unemployment, the “austerity” measures of the government that cut back on health and welfare services, pensions and salaries of public workers while at the same time continuing with the hand outs to the banks and the big capitalists.
At first, young people who have been particularly hard hit by the cuts initiated the protests, and soon increasing numbers of families and older workers joined the occupations in Madrid and other cities including Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Zaragoza and Bilbao. The ruling Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) and the opposition Popular Party (PP) have earned the deep disgust of the working people for trying to outdo each other in serving the capitalists while pushing the burden of the crisis onto the backs of the working people. Spain held regional and municipal elections on 22nd May 2011, which returned a big defeat for the PSOE government. The elections were overshadowed by the protests. Though various local electoral boards and the central election commission banned the protests ahead of the elections, the government has not yet dared to send in police to enforce the ban and force the protestors out of the buildings and places they are occupying.
The Puerta del Sol has become one large assembly of people, with the working people raising their demands as a charter. The Puerta del Sol assembly has adopted a list of 16 demands, including the democratisation of the election process; the proclamation of basic rights, such as housing, health care and education; greater government control over banks and businesses; reduced military spending; and the renationalisation of privatised public enterprises. They urged people not to vote for either of Spain’s two main parties, the PSOE or the Popular Party (PP). They expressed their opposition to the political system and process by which whichever party comes to power, the interests of the working masses are attacked while the interests of the monopolies and banks are defended.
In Spain, as in many capitalist countries across the globe, the people are increasingly realising that the multi party system of representative democracy is not a system in which they can get justice, and that it is just a vehicle for ensuring that the party most suited to serving the interests of the big capitalists comes to power. They are coming out onto the streets and public places to demand that they get justice, that the rich be made to pay for the crisis.