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Anti-austerity protests in Europe

June 1, 2011

Thousands took to the streets all over Spain this past weekend to protest their Government and the handling of the recession.  An unemployment rate of 21% has left many in their mid twenties unemployed with little faith or support for the current major political parties. A makeshift encampment of tents has been set up at the Plaza del Sol in Madrid led by the “Real Democracy Now” movement.

On Saturday, some Catalans had something to celebrate when their beloved FC Barcelona won the European Champions League Final against Manchester United in London.  Thousands of supporters gathered in Barcelona to watch the match in a square. Not even a third Champions League title in five years could suppress the hard feelings that the economic downturn has created. Riot police were soon called in and what should have been a night of friendly celebration turned violent.

The implications of these protests will be a major concern to the EU. The protests in Spain have now created a pendulum effect in Southern European states with more protests in Greece and even a small turnout in Paris.  If protests begin to evolve into violence then the economic stability and national sovereignty of those member states will be called into question.   It is now the turn of the EU and of the Spanish and Greek governments to respond to these protests which could prove to be difficult.  One would speculate that a few more bailout packages may be in store to get these member states back on track. The protests have left the EU feeling they may have to sweeten the deal with Greece.  Spain has not even received a bailout unlike their protesting counterparts in Greece and Iberian neighbors Portugal.  It will be interesting to see how long the protesters are willing to wait.

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