Few options for Europe's indignant youth

Sun Jun 5, 2011 8:14am GMT
 

By Tracy Rucinski

MADRID (Reuters) - Solidarity with Spain's "los indignados (the indignant)" has sparked a wave of protest across Europe as jobless and alienated young people show their frustration over their bleak futures.

Faced with dwindling jobs, opportunities and benefits and bearing the burden of previous generations' overspending, this "lost generation" of young Europeans is taking the lead away from weakened labour unions and ineffectual politicians in voicing the discontent felt by many from London to Athens.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators packed squares across Spain ahead of local elections in May to make clear they rejected the mainstream politicians blamed for the country's prolonged economic woes and 45 percent youth unemployment.

Like similar movements in London, Paris and Athens, the protests were largely leaderless and amorphous and reflected a drift from leftist parties that are either powerless or have supported austerity pacts rather than denounce spending cuts arising from the euro zone debt crisis.

"When almost half of a country's youth is unemployed ... and when they feel abandoned by the political system ... It's fair to say this is no longer just an economic crisis," said David Bach, a professor at the IE Business School in Madrid.

TENT TOWNS IN PUBLIC SQUARES

Although France and Germany have returned to economic growth, much of the euro currency area is struggling to recover from credit gluts, housing bubbles and bank collapses that forced governments to make the drastic spending.

Greece is negotiating a second aid package -- including harsh austerity measures -- with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund after it spiralled into a debt crisis and had to ask for a bailout last year.   Continued...

<p>Demonstrators raise their hands as they listen to a speaker at Madrid's landmark Puerta del Sol May 31, 2011. REUTERS/Susana Vera</p>
 
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