Tens of thousands of people have marched in Madrid in support for anti-austerity party Podemos, whose surging popularity and policies have drawn comparisons with Greece’s new Syriza rulers.
On Saturday, protesters chanted “Yes we can!” as they made their way from Madrid city hall to the central Puerta del Sol square. Podemos and its anti-austerity message have been surging in polls ahead of local, regional and national elections this year.
Podemos (“We Can”) was formed just a year ago, but produced a major shock by winning five seats in elections for the European Parliament in May.
“People are fed up with the political class,” said Antonia Fernandez, a 69-year-old pensioner from Madrid who had come to the demonstration with her family.
One protester, Fernandez, who lives with her husband on a 700-euros-a-month combined pension cheque said she used to vote for the Socialist party but had lost faith in it because of its handling of the economic crisis and its austerity policies.
|Podemos has found popular support by targeting corruption and rejecting austerity programmes aimed at lifting the countries out of deep economic crisis [EPA]|
“If we want to have a future, we need jobs,” she said.
Greek leftist leader Alexis Tsipras promised that five years of austerity, “humiliation and suffering” imposed by international creditors were over after his Syriza party swept to victory in a snap election on January 25.
Like Syriza, Podemos has found popular support by targeting corruption and rejecting austerity programmes aimed at lifting the countries out of a deep economic crisis.
Spain is emerging from a seven-year economic slump as one of the euro zone’s fastest growing countries, but the exit from recession has yet to ease the hardship for thousands of households, in a country where nearly one in four of the workforce is out of a job.