As In Greece, Voters In Spain Appear Ready To Oust Conservatives

Feb 1, 2015
Originally published on February 1, 2015 11:39 am
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Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

In Spain, hundreds of thousands of people held a so-called march for change yesterday in Madrid. They were rallying in favor of Spain's newest political faction, an anti-austerity party similar to the one that just won power in Greece. Supporters hope Spain will be next. Elections are due there in the fall.

Lauren Frayer brings us that story from Madrid.

LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: They streamed into Madrid by the thousands by bus train and carpool from all over Spain to march for this country's newest political party Podemos, which means we can in Spanish.

(SOUNDBITE OF RALLY)

CROWD: (Chanting) Si se puede. Yes we can.

CARMEN MARTINEZ: We can change things. We can change democracy.

FRAYER: Carmen Martinez is a teacher who lost her job last month. She boarded a bus at 5 a.m. to get here from and Andalusia, in Southern Spain.

MARTINEZ: This is not the democracy we want. It is only for banks and for the rich. It is always the same. We are so tired of that.

FRAYER: The man on which supporters pin their hopes for change is the Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias, a 36-year-old political science professor with a ponytail.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

PABLO IGLESIAS: (Speaking Spanish).

FRAYER: "How beautiful it is to watch people make history," Iglesias told the crowd. "Humble people standing up to cowardly politicians who defend only their own privilege," he said. After Iglesias was elected to the European Parliament last spring, he cut his own salary there by three quarters. If elected Spanish prime minister, he vows to raise the minimum wage, crackdown on corruption and reevaluate whether to pay this country's debts. That gives Spain's creditors pause. But Iglesias is careful to say that while he supports his leftist allies just elected in Greece, the recipe for change here may be different. As for the current Spanish government, it says change is already underway.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

PRIME MINISTER MARIANO RAJOY: (Speaking Spanish).

FRAYER: "In the past two years, we've emerged from intensive care and walked right out of the hospital on our own," Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told supporters Saturday at a conservative party conference. Spain's economy is growing again, even more than most other European countries, and more Spaniards are working.

DR. DANIEL RIPA: People is not believing what Rajoy is saying because they are not feeling that in their lives.

FRAYER: Daniel Ripa is 33, has a PhD and is among the 23 percent of Spaniards who are still unemployed.

RIPA: People that speak three languages, have two degrees - a doctorate and they are working in Burger King or McDonald's. Why you are not taking care of the talent of people?

FRAYER: Roughly one third of Spaniards say they'll vote for Podemos this fall, enough to oust ruling conservatives from power. For NPR News, I'm Lauren Frayer in Madrid. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.