Photo Cristobal Manuel - El Pais
In case you hadn´t heard, there´s something going on in the plazas of Spain. Disaffected youth, seniors, pensioners, unemployed and assorted others have decided to gather and say they´re fed up with incompetent, corrupt and out-of-touch politicians of all stripes. Who could have predicted?
V and I and some of the family wandered around the city center last night to check out what was going on (it was packed), see the signage, and end up at a terraza to reminisce about the demonstrations of their youth (theirs not mine, Spain was more exciting than Wisconsin). There are nieces and nephews sleeping in the plaza in solidarity. So much for apathy amongst the gen-whatevers these days.
The Indignant, M-15 (ref. to the demonstrations May 15th) and Democracia Real Ya (Real Democracy Already) are amongst the groups participating. Since they´re careful to refrain from supporting/critisizing any one party, it´s a little unclear what the whole movement is about. Part of the fun in the Puerta del Sol is the real-time, open-mic airing of grievances that´s going on. But to try to get a handle on what they were about, I went to their Proposals page and found the following:
1. ELIMINATION OF THE PRIVILEGES OF THE POLITICAL CLASS:
* Strict control of absenteeism in their respective elected positions. Specific penalties for dereliction of duties.
* Rescinding of current privileges in paying taxes, years of contribution and the amount of pensions. Compensation to equal the average Spanish wage with only the additional expenses necessary for the execution of their duties.
* Elimination of immunity associated with post. Eliminate the statute of limitations on crimes of corruption.
* Mandatory disclosure of the assets of all public office holders.
* Reduce discretionary personal appointments to public office.
2. AGAINST UNEMPLOYMENT:
* Redistribution of hours worked, promoting reduction of the workday and reconciliation of employment until structural unemployment is eliminated(i.e. until unemployment falls below 5%).
* Retirement at 65 and no increase in the retirement age until youth unemployment is eliminated.
* Bonuses for companies with less than 10% temporary employment contracts.
* Job security: the impossibility of mass layoffs in large companies while there are profits, controls on large firms to ensure that temporary workers are not used to cover permanent positions.
* Reinstatement of the 426 € stipend for all long-term unemployed.
3. RIGHT TO HOUSING:
* State expropriation of existing, unsold housing stock for placement on the market as subsidized rental housing.
* Rental assistance for young and low income people.
* Foreclosure of a home will cancel the outstanding mortgage.
4. QUALITY PUBLIC SERVICES:
* Removal of unnecessary expenditure in public administration and establishment of independent monitoring of budgets and expenditures.
* Recruitment of health personnel to eliminate waiting lists.
* Recruitment of teachers to ensure the ratio of students per classroom, team teaching groups and support groups.
* Reduced cost of tuition for any university education, post graduate to equal graduate tuition.
* Public funding of research to ensure its independence.
* Affordable, quality, environmentally sustainable public transport, and restoration of the original prices for trains being replaced by the AVE, cheaper bus passes, restricting private car traffic in city centers, construction of bicycle lanes.
* Local Social resources: effective implementation of the Dependency Act(in-home care), local municipal caregivers networks, local mediation and mentoring services.
5. CONTROL OF BANKS:
* Prohibition of any kind of bailout or capital injection to banks: those institutions in difficulty should either fail or be nationalized to form a public bank under public control.
* Raise taxes on the banks in direct proportion to necessary social spending created by the crisis due to their mismanagement.
* Return all capital already provided to banks to the public purse.
* Prohibition of investment in tax havens by Spanish banks.
* Regulating sanctions on speculation and banking malpractice.
* Increase the tax rate on large fortunes and banks.
* Elimination of SICAV funds. (C - From Wikipedia: In Spain, a SICAV is a public limited company whose object is to invest in financial assets. Sicavs possess great tax advantages, paying just 1% to the Treasury in corporate income tax (corporation tax))
* Reinstitution of the wealth tax.
* Real and effective control of tax evasion and capital flight to tax havens.
* Promoting international adoption of a tax on international transactions (Tobin tax).
7. FREEDOM AND PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRACY:
* No Internet control. Abolition of the Sinde Act.
* Protection of freedom of information and for investigative journalism.
* Mandatory and binding Referendums on the wide-ranging issues that impact the lives of citizens.
* Mandatory Referendums for all measures introduced by the European Union.
* Amendment of the Electoral Act to ensure a truly representative and proportional system that does not discriminate against any political or social force, where the blank ballots and invalid ballots also have representation in the legislature.
* Independence of the Judiciary: Reform of the Prosecutors Office to ensure their independence, no appointment of members of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Judicial Council by the Executive branch.
* Establishment of effective mechanisms to ensure internal democracy in political parties.
8. REDUCTION IN MILITARY SPENDING
All translation errors are mine.
As we made our way to the metro later, there were even more people, the crowd was at 24,000 according to the nightly news.
It will be interesting to see how this all progresses through next year when general elections are scheduled for March.
For more see:
South of Watford Especially for background on the internet/infringement Sinde Act.
The European Tribune for an economic angle from ManfromMiddletown