Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Spanish are having their own Arab Spring


By Adrian Hamilton
The Independent

"....But this is not a repeat of traditional union-led, left-wing organised demonstrations against government of the sort we have seen so often in the past. Far from it. The peculiarity of European politics at the moment is that the revolt against cuts is directed against anyone in power to the benefit of the party in opposition.....

The Spanish protests, in contrast, are not a left-right affair. Rather, like the Arab movements, they are demonstrating against the whole system and the major parties held to be part of it. The means of organisation through social networks is the same as in the Arab uprising. The occupation of public places and the establishment of committees to handle food and rubbish draws on the North African example.

Some of the causes are also the same. Spain now has the highest rate of unemployment in the EU, with a youth unemployment of 45 per cent which is pretty close to the rates experienced through much of the Middle East.

Corruption is held to be widespread, with over 100 candidates in the local election being accused of it. The banking crisis has exposed– as in Ireland – a system in which financiers, developers and politicians hug each other all too closely......

To claim that we in the West should congratulate ourselves on an Arab Spring which looks to us as its example is just to misunderstand its nature and our response. The protesters in the Arab squares are demonstrating against an autocracy and corruption which have become insufferable. The demonstrators in Spain are saying the same about their democratic structures......

Far from it being a moment for self-congratulation, the Arab Spring should be causing us to look at ourselves and see what lessons it has for us....."

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