Spaniards stage protests despite gov't pre-election ban

13:20, May 22, 2011      

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Large crowds of Spaniards gathered in city squares across the nation to protest high unemployment before local elections on Sunday, defying a government ban on pre-election demonstrations.

The mass protests came on the eve of regional and municipal elections on Sunday in most of the southwestern European country.

According to local media reports, tens of thousands of protesters, especially the young, have joined the demonstrations for the past week, protesting against the government's handling of the economic crisis, which has sent Spain's unemployment soaring to 21.3 percent, the highest in the 17-nation eurozone.

The government has not sent in police troops to enforce the ban following a week of peaceful protest.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has urged demonstrators to exercise restraint, as the 24 hours prior to election day are called "a day for reflection," when campaigning and other political activities are prohibited.

The ruling Socialists are expected to suffer big losses in the elections for more than 8,000 city councils and 13 local governments in the country's 17 semiautonomous regions.

Source: Xinhua
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