However, it is the Spanish political class that is close to being discredited. Corruption scandals have implicated many key members and former colleagues of the government, including the prime minister, in taking undeclared money from the construction and property development industries responsible for the housing bubble.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has become known as Mariano Plasma after giving press conferences via a TV screen so the media could not ask questions. During sombre economic announcements on Friday last week he made no appearance at all.
Given the lack of accountability in the political process, social movements are finding other, creative ways to give voice to those suffering from the crisis, including the young people who have been forced to look for work abroad. According to El Pais, 260,000 people aged between 16 years old and 30 years old left Spain last year. An indignado group, Youth Without Future, is collecting portraits of these young Spaniards, holding up signs detailing their stories of unemployment, exile and insecurity under the slogan: “We didn’t leave; they threw us out.”
Meanwhile, Madrilonia, an indignado blog, declares the entire economic model broken. The authors are not waiting around for someone to fix it, but building their own alternatives, from the Catalan network of cooperatives to the Casa Precaria in Madrid that advises people on how to go about creating their own jobs through worker cooperatives.
Couple social deprivation with a democratic process that most people feel alienated from and you have a recipe for social unrest. The only question is whether protest will successfully create meaningful forms of political participation and democratic control over economic decisionmaking. For example, the Citizen’s Tide coalition is pushing for an audit of Spain’s national debt under the slogan “we don’t owe, we won’t pay,” and a referendum that will allow the population to register its opinion on austerity measures and privatization.
On June 1 it is to join other social movements across southern Europe in street mobilizations against austerity. Meanwhile, Mortgage Victims’ Platform members are increasingly turning to civil disobedience. The number of repossessed, bank-owned blocks of flats occupied by evicted families is growing.
Two years ago the indignados occupied the plazas across Spain to protest against the crisis and demand a “real democracy.”
Now, it seems, indignation is becoming a generalized condition.
Katharine Ainger is co-editor of We Are Everywhere: The irresistible rise of global anti-capitalism.