Across Spain, in Madrid, disgruntled and disheartened Spaniards took to the streets to protest the latest austerity measures. Similar protests took place in the capital of Portugal as Portuguese people also feel the pinch.
On Friday the Conservative government of Spain passed a tough budget for 2013. The draft budget will cut overall spending by €40 billion ($51.7 billion), This will involve a pay freeze for public sector workers, cutting spending for unemployment benefits and reducing spending for Spain's royal family by 4 percent. The last measure is laughable. If you are paid peanuts a 4% cut matters a great deal. If you are an overpaid Royal it is meaningless.
Portugal saw more protesters on the streets of Lisbon than Madrid. The protests here were by and large peaceful. People from the young unemployed to retired people, with what was once a good pension, are being hit by austerity measures. They are rightly very angry.
People are hurting and they can only take so much. Governments in the EU expect people to willingly "bleed" whilst they live off the fat of the land. Perhaps they should take a look back to history. These latest austerity measures could represent "the straw that broke the camel's back".
Countries may have tough economic times ahead but unless that is true for all expect trouble. Yesterday's protests soon became violent. Tens of thousands took part in a show of strength in Lisbon but less in Madrid. There had been peaceful marches and protests during the day in Madrid but trouble flared when a group of protesters refused to go home.
Police decided on a heavy handed approach to disperse those who were close to Parliament as midnight approached. It was not that trouble had flared simply that the protesters did not have permission to protest. Batons were used and there is at least one substantiated report of a protester being violently beaten by officers. That person was eventually removed, by ambulance!
Two people were reported to be hurt and 12 others arrested. This was less than protests earlier this week. As Police are public servants we have to wonder if the government has not hit them with austerity measures yet. Perhaps their numbers are not being cut nor their pay frozen. After all they will have "dirty work" to do over the coming weeks and months. If the police service is not protected from austerity measures they would be better joining the protesters, ioho.
Spain has some tough choices to make in the coming days and weeks. With the highest unemployment figure in the EU it will not be easy. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is pushing through austerity measures quickly. Too quickly in many people's opinions. He probably has had his orders from the EU.
In the UK it has been proven that, too much too soon as far as austerity measures go, does not work. The Conservative government of Spain is firmly in place with a good majority, at least for now. Of course the EU will simply add to that country's woes.