World Bulletin / News Desk
Hundreds of thousands of Spaniards marched against the centre-right government's latest austerity measures on Thursday evening, following more than a week of demonstrations across the country.
Parliament on Thursday approved a package of 65 billion euros ($80 billion) of spending cuts and tax hikes as part of measures to avert a full European bail-out, bringing more hardship in a severe economic downturn.
Demonstrators took to the streets in towns and cities across Spain, thronging the thoroughfares of Madrid and Barcelona, waving flags and bearing banners decorated with scissors to symbolise spending cuts.
In Madrid, crowds of firemen wearing helments and t-shirts with the slogan "Firemen in danger of extinction" blew horns and let off firecrackers. Earlier, policemen and members of the Civil Guard joined the protests.
"We have lived through bad times, but this takes the biscuit," said 58-year-old fireman Francisco Vaquero.
The sight of demonstrators on Spain's streets is nothing new. Young "Indignados" (Indignants) protested in their thousands against unemployment last year. One in four Spaniards is without work.
But since Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced spending cuts and tax rises last week there have been daily demonstrations drawing protests from public service workers like police that have previously stayed away.
Civil servants, whose pay was cut by up to 7 percent when their Christmas bonus was cancelled, have used their coffee breaks this week to protest outside the ruling People's Party (PP) headquarters in Madrid.
"We have to make some noise, because they're making fun of us and of all working people," said Iria, 34, an auditor in the treasury, during a rally outside the PP building on Wednesday.
LITTLE PREPARATION, PLENTY OF HAVOC
Public workers up to now had accepted several cuts or freezes in their salaries over the last three years with a sense of resignation. But the latest round of belt-tightening has spurred widespread anger.
"It has gone beyond an ideological issue ... and it's moved beyond the traditional groups that demonstrate. We have seen even the military threatening a demonstration," said Ramon Pacheco, a lecturer in Spanish politics at Kings College London.
Rajoy announced the cuts as thousands of miners and supporters, some of whom had marched hundreds of kilometres (miles) from northern Spain to protest against a reduction in coal subsidies, staged a rally that ended with police firing rubber bullets and making arrests.
Civil servants poured out of their offices to block Madrid's main arteries following Rajoy's announcement and have protested every day since, organising action through emails and by co-ordinating at work without any clear leaders.
On Friday, the Indignados turned out in support of the civil servants, a sign that disparate groups with different complaints are uniting in a common cause. That protest ended with scuffles between police and protesters in Madrid's Puerta del Sol, the centre of last year's protest movement.
RISKS FOR THE GOVERNMENT
Messages on social networks like Twitter and mobile messaging service WhatsApp call for impromptu demonstrations that attract hundreds of people in various cities every day.
One message doing the rounds urges citizens to gather in the main squares of their cities on July 27 and says: "The Spanish people are sick of all politicians. Let's make history!"
The cabinet on Thursday approved a parliamentary motion categorising "urban violence" as a specific crime, which could empower police to detain suspects preventively before being charged with the offence.
The party has more than three years of its term left, but analysts warn that if the crisis continues to escalate, Rajoy will be threatened.
"It's difficult to make predictions, but it's more than likely that this government term could come to an end sooner than expected," said Fermin Bouza, a sociologist at Madrid's Complutense University.
Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, Cisco and Oracle hold about $504B, approximately one-third of all corporate cash in the United States
The Fund's head says 'corruption has a pernicious effect on the economy'
Exit would cost average monthly salary for each household, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development says
Firms to see deterioration in credit metrics as low oil prices impact cash flows
OPEC exporters as well as other non-OPEC producers, including Russia, fail to agree on oil output freeze
Moody's has upgraded Argentina's credit rating after a US appeals court ruling this week cleared the way for Buenos Aires to proceed with the biggest debt issue by an emerging market country in 20 years.
Ahead of Doha meeting, OPEC says 'hurdles prevail as oversupply persists and inventories remain high'
Kuwaiti OPEC head says Russia and OPEC are likely to agree on oil output freeze
'The good news is that the recovery continues; we have growth; we are not in crisis,' Christine Lagarde says
The meeting is a 'follow-up' to last month's talks between Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela when they proposed an accord to freeze oil output at January levels
'They are not trimming output, only keeping it at the same levels...this is the same unchanged policy,' one expert says
Iran joining Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Russia in freezing oil output levels
According to the ratings agency Moody’s, Iran is fiscally and structurally well placed to come back into the global economic scene
PM Davutoglu meets the heads of the world's largest companies as he promotes Turkish economic interests at World Economic Forum
Fund cuts global growth forecasts for both 2016 and 2017 by 0.2 percentage points
'Runaway inequality has created a world where 62 people own as much wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population'