First twitter and facebook took down several North African regimes where Ben Bernanke drove the people to a hunger-based desperation, now twitter is poised to topple the Spanish government. At least that appears to be the conventional wisdom in Spain, where for the fourth day people across the country are protesting record high (21%) unemployment and various other economic slowdown after effects. CNN reports on the latest out of Spain.
For those seeking a fist-person look from the ground, here is a summary of the 5 W's of the Spanish protests courtesy of Spanish blog Against the Wall.
The Five W's
* Who is it about?
A huge amalgam of groups and civil associations, the bigger ones "Democracia Real Ya" (Real Democracy Now) "No les Votes" (Don't Vote Them) moving TENS OF THOUSANDS of people from every politic side, and ranging from 16 to 70 years old. More youngsters, of course, but in the late twenties and young families. Some traditional "alternative" dress codes but TONS of high university degrees between the groups. Smart people, and using social networks like crazy. they refuse to be from any political party, and specifically ask for removal of any sign related to parties, nationalisms, religions, or the old Kingdom vs. Republic discussion.
* What happened?
On May 15th sixty different marchs were convoked using exclusively twitter, facebook, blogs and such. Not a single traditional media element echoed, neither any political party organized anything.
Is not a map of nice tourism cities, but centers of the marches.
In each and every province in Spain, and once finished the march on 15th, every day in the different plazas in each capital of province, random numbers from 100 to 5000 people are CAMPING following with protests. Today as well. Tomorrow as well.
* Why did it happen?
Finally it seems the "civil society" as we say here are starting to awake. The slogans are incredibly varied , most of them very catchy, and covers dozens of topics, asking for fundamental changes in Elections Law (asking for open candidate lists, instead the current closed lists that made that even politicians currently waiting for corruption trials are elegible in this weekend Municipal Elections), to threats à là Icelandic : To haunt and trial the bankers and politicians responsible for the biggest scandals in the recent years, ranging from the sale of millions of ounces of gold to appeals to a fundamental switch in the way of thinking: "Apaga la TV, ponte a pensar" (Turn off TV, start to Think).
* How did it happen?
No flags, no funny party colors. Just people tired and angry.
The Social Networks, namely facebook, twitter, and prominent independent forums as burbuja.info have been working for weeks now, trying to convince everyone that a) It was not a movement instrumentalized by any political party and b) It was time to go out. If with 5 million of official unemployment (21% of active population, more on that on my next article), a huge real state bust product of massively weak credit politics, encouraged by stablishment, and uncertainity about the inmediate future watching how other countries at our side are getting more and more social cuts to pay the crisis generated by the elites, don't go out, then when?
The Stakes Have Been Laid Down
From the complete blackout that the biggest march on 15th was given by all newspapers, TV and in general, official media, to the several debate programs that today are running in every TV channel, this four days have seen a true meaning for everyone. This is not a kid's game, the Powers That Be are using everything on it: From only showing the typical dawn quarrels between 5 "professional rioters" and the police, in order to make a 20,000 people march appears like an anti-system battle, to mutual accusations from the biggest parties of being the source of the movement to, of course, mine and disgrace "the other". The significant other, i must say.
The first part is done. People is awake now. the second part is going to be harshest: If the upcoming elections see a raise in the number of voters, but a decline in the two biggest political parties (Out own republican and democrat parties) , the social movement will go further, and probably some key changes will start to evolve. But if less people vote, or in uncertainity the fear moves people to the biggest parties, as strong as the tide arrived, it will go back to the traditional and sadly famous spanish lack of interest on anything beyond food, R&R and soccer.