Saturday, January 31, 2015

Will Spain Be The Next Nation To Rebel Against EU Austerity Measures

Tens Of Thousands Join Madrid Anti-Austerity Rally.

protestors supporting poidemos in spain
An aerial shot of the crowds in Madrid's Puerta del Sol: PEDRO ARMESTRE / AFP

Spaniards took to the streets in Madrid on Saturday in support of new anti-austerity party Podemos, a week after Greece elected its hard-left ally Syriza. Tens of thousands of protestors chanting "Yes we can!" made their way from Madrid city hall to Puerta del Sol, the city's main square. Podemos and its anti-austerity message have been surging in polls ahead of elections later this year but have gained additional momentum following the victory of Greece's anti - austerity party.

"There are many people that agree with the need for change. Enough already with stealing - that the corrupt take everything and we can't do anything," Dori Sanchez, a 23-year-old unemployed teacher who came from Manovar in southeastern Spain told reporters after travelling north for the rally.

A Podemos press officer said 260 buses brought supporters to the capital from cities and towns around Spain to swell support for the "March for Change". Hundreds of locals volunteers offered accommodation to the travellers. Demonstrators carried banners that read "Universal Basic Income," "Tick, tock its time for change" and "Together we can".

Syriza beat mainstream Greek parties by pledging to end austerity, as Podemos aims to do in Spain's general election due in November. both might find it impossible to honour that pledge while remaining in the EU and the Eurozone, as their manifesto promises say they will. Podemos was formed just a year ago, but has surged in opinion polls with promises to fight what Iglesias calls the traditional "caste" of political leaders.

Like Syriza, Podemos has found popular support by targeting corruption and rejecting austerity programmes purportedly aimed at lifting the countries out of deep economic crisis but which are in reality much more likely to see the wealth gap between rich and poor widening.

Podemos has also found popularity among Spanish voters enraged by a string of corruption scandals, as well as public spending cuts imposed by the conservative ruling party and previously by the Socialists after the economic crisis erupted in 2008. Spain has now officially exited recession, the country grew by 1.4 percent last year according to provisional data released Friday but this is mostly due to printing money which devalues wages and savings. Nearly one in four workers are unemployed and the figure among the 18 - 24 age group is close to fifty per cent. Salaries for many people have dropped and the number of workers on low-paid short-term contracts or working part time has soared.

Spain's street protest movement has died down since 2013 after the government imposed draconian penalties on protestors but some of the leaders formed Podemos in January 2014. Four months later, the party won five seats in the European Parliament, with more than 1.2 million Spaniards voting for it.
Podemos has overtaken the mainstream opposition Socialist Party in several opinion polls, and in some has topped the list ahead of the conservative ruling People's Party (PP). The Socialists and the PP have ruled Spain alternately since the country returned to democracy after the death of the dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

Greece's New Left Wing Government Gives EU The Finger

The new left-wing Greek government has said that it will not cooperate with the ‘troika’ of international lenders, and does not plan to seek an extension for its aid package which is set to expire at the end of February. Without further aid, Greek banks could face being shut off from European Central Bank funding.

“This position enabled us to win the trust of the Greek people,” Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said Friday during a joint press conference with Jeroen Dijsselbloem, head of the eurozone finance ministers’ group.

“Our first action as a government will not be to reject the rationale of questioning this program through a request to extend it,” Varoufakis said. “We respect institutions but we don’t plan to cooperate with that committee.”

The meeting between Varoufakis and Dijsselbloem is to lay the groundwork for visits by newly-elected Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the finance minister to London, Paris, and Rome next week. The new Greek leadership has voiced its intention to attempt to loosen the terms of the massive €240 billion (US$271 billion) bailout.

The new government has fueled panic among creditors and investors by promising to freeze privatizations and re-hire state workers, in addition to rolling back other reforms that were mandated by the bailout.

Meawhile the north of Europe is unsympathetic, thinking the Greeks spent all that money on luxuries, sex, drugs, and rock and roll, and thus they must repay the debt. However, a great deal of the money Greece borrowed went to border protection against the Turks. A lot more was soaked up by social policies imposed by the EU which Greece's economy was never going to be able to afford.

The resposibility lies on the ruling class, just as has happened in Spain. The international bankers and the EU used the same tactics that the USA used in Latin America. Get some crooked politicians on board and give them kickbacks to take huge loans so that the country will owe more than the GDP and then you own the country.

Bullying the Greeks now is a very aggressive move from the Troika and it is not something that We The Punters should allow to happen. The Greeks are right make a stand and people everywhere who believe in democracy should support them. Just because the Germany is richer than the whole of souther Europe put together it should not be aloowed to trample weaker nations under the heel of the jackboot.

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