Hundreds of thousands of Spaniards took to the streets again today to join anti-austerity marches in 56 cities across the country.
The crowd in Madrid was estimated at over 60,000 as 150 organisations gathered behind the rallying cry: "They want to ruin the country. We have to stop them."
Massive marches against the neoliberal Mariano Rajoy government, which like many others in the EU is using a financial crisis created in the private banking sector to roll back the state's public spending responsibilities, have taken place almost daily in Spanish cities in recent weeks.
But Madrid is refusing to change course and plans another €65 billion (£52bn) in cuts over the next two and a half years.
Public-sector wages are being frozen for a third year in a row, unemployment is over 25 per cent and the national debt is rising as cuts suck the life out of the economy.
Carmen Lopez, a shop assistant on the Madrid march, told reporters: "It's shameful - pensions, salaries, public healthcare and education. They're taking everything."
Many banners read: "Their plunder, my crisis" while others called for cuts to fall on the banks - which are due for an EU bailout of up to €100bn (£80bn) - or the church, which lost direct state funding in 2006 but enjoys numerous tax breaks.
Trade union leaders warned that if Mr Rajoy does not put his unpopular cuts to a referendum they will call a general strike, probably for November 14.
CCOO union federation general secretary Candido Mendez said people needed to mobilise to throw out a policy which "leaves workers at the mercy of corporate power."
He also condemned recent attempts to ban popular protest, noting that a police bid to prosecute the organisers of a previous Madrid rally had been thrown out by a judge last Thursday but the government might try to change the law.
Mr Rajoy has dismissed the mass movement and claims that a "silent majority" of Spaniards who are not on the streets back him - though a poll today by El Pais newspaper found that 77 per cent support the protesters.
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