May 22 - Thousands of Spaniards protesting austerity measures continue their demonstrations as voters head to the polls in regional elections. Simon Hannna reports.
As polling day dawns in Spain, hundreds of protesters in Madrid's Puerta del Sol square wake up to the 8th day of their sit-in. Tens of thousands of Spaniards have been voicing their opposition to the country's austerity measures, in demonstrations that began on May 15. On Sunday the protest continued, despite regional elections that were also due to be held that day. Demonstrations are forbidden in Spain on elections days and the preceding 24 hours, but one protester said they would continue even after the poll. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) PROTESTER ALAJANDRA: "This is not ending with the elections. The problem is not the Popular party or the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, to vote left wing or right wing, the problem is in a higher sphere. It is a question of values. This is completely unfair and has to be changed." Spain's Prime Minister Luis Rodriguez Zapatero voted in the regional elections, which have been eclipsed by the protests. His ruling PSOE party have been blamed for their handling of the economic crisis, and are expected to suffer major losses in the vote. Peaceful protests across Spain have attracted up to 60,000 demonstrators across the country in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Bilbao and many other cities. Spaniards of all ages have been involved, but the bulk has consisted of young people who have been hit particularly hard by the state of the economy. Almost half of 18-25 year olds are out of work. Simon Hanna, Reuters.