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Anti-Austerity Rallies in Europe Support Greece

Feb. 4, 2015 (EIRNS)— Some 300,000 people packed Madrid’s Puerta del Sol Plaza and overflowed deep into the side streets, on Jan. 31, at the “Rally for Change” organized by the new Podemos party, allies of Greece’s Syriza party. The event was streamed live, and watched by Spaniards living abroad, many of them as economic exiles.

The rally had been called long before Greece’s elections, but Syriza’s victory has set off a wave of optimism in Spain which could not be missed in the Saturday rally. The slogan of the day was “The Time Is Now,” and some protesters carried Greek flags.

Although short on programmatic solutions to the crisis, Podemos’s firm assertion that the time has come to move from resistance to victory, is an explosive political factor in depressed Spain.

We are not here to protest, Podemos’s lead candidate, Pablo Iglesias, told the rally. We are here to win; we shall defeat the ruling Popular Party in the elections of 2015. From the outset, Iglesias reiterated the historic precedents upon which Podemos had organized the rally: from Madrid’s Puerta del Sol, the resistance to Napoleon’s invaders began in 1808; the Second Republic was proclaimed in 1931; and the “indignant” youth of Spain broke national passivity in 2011, with the first mass rally proclaiming that the government is illegitimate.

On the same day a reported 40,000 Irish took to the streets of a half a dozen cities across Ireland to protest government austerity measures. As in Spain, the model of Greece’s courage against austerity was a major topic of the speeches.