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Spaniards vow to continue protests

 
 
 
 
 
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General view of the Puerta del Sol square in Madrid on May 21, 2011 during a protest against Spain's economic crisis.

Protesters in the Spanish capital of Madrid say they will continue their rallies after the ruling Socialist Party suffered election losses.

“We plan to stay until next Sunday, but we haven’t ruled out staying even longer,” said a spokeswoman for the organizers at a protest camp.

Protesters in other cities — from Barcelona to Valencia, Granada and Zaragoza — also said they would press ahead with demonstrations despite the end of the local elections.

“We haven’t noticed any drop in mobilization after the elections yesterday,” the spokeswoman said.

“We are even better organized; people are coming to help us.”

Disgruntled Spaniards began their protests against the government’s austerity measures on May 15, demanding jobs, housing and “real democracy.”

Spain’s ruling Socialist Party (PSOE) lost to conservatives in a nearly completed count amid growing concerns about Spain’s struggling economy.

PSOE received less than 28 percent, while the country’s conservative opposition, the People’s Party, secured over 37 percent of the vote.

The defeat comes as Spain’s overall unemployment stands at a staggering 21.29 percent.

Statistics released by the Spanish government show that nearly 4.9 million people remained jobless across the country in the first quarter of 2011.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero admitted that three years of economic crisis were the main reason for his party’s loss.

In an attempt to keep the nation calm on the eve of the elections, the government banned political protests. Yet tens of thousands of protesters remained on the streets across the nation.

In May 2010, Zapatero’s government introduced a slew of drastic austerity measures, including the cutting of civil servant wages, as part of its plans to curb the budget deficit from 11 percent a year earlier to within three percent of the GDP, which is the target for 2013 set by the European Union.

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