Tens of thousand rally for Spain’s Podemos before elections

MADRID Sat Jan 31, 2015 10:00am EST

People fill Madrid's landmark Puerta del Sol as they gather at a rally called by Spain's anti-austerity party Podemos (We Can)

People fill Madrid’s landmark Puerta del Sol as they gather at a rally called by Spain’s anti-austerity party Podemos (We Can) January 31, 2015. REUTERS-Sergio Perez
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(Reuters) – Tens of thousands marched in Madrid on Saturday in the biggest show of support yet for anti-austerity party Podemos, whose surging popularity and policies have drawn comparisons with Greece’s new Syriza rulers.

Crowds chanted “yes we can” and “tic tac tic tac”, suggesting the clock was ticking for the political elite. Many waved Greek and Republican flags and banners reading “the change is now”.

Podemos (“We Can”) was formed just a year ago, but produced a major shock by winning five seats in elections for the European Parliament in May. It is currently topping opinion polls in the run up to local, regional and national elections this year.

“People are fed up with the political class,” said Antonia Fernandez, a 69-year-old pensioner from Madrid who had come to the demonstration with her family.

Fernandez, who lives with her husband on a 700-euros-a-month combined pension check said she used to vote for the socialist party but had lost faith in it because of its handling of the economic crisis and its austerity policies.

“If we want to have a future, we need jobs,” she said.

Spain is emerging from a seven-year economic slump as one of the euro zone’s fastest growing countries, but the exit from recession has yet to ease the hardship for thousands of households, in a country where nearly one in four of the workforce is out of a job.

Greek leftist leader Alexis Tsipras promised that five years of austerity, “humiliation and suffering” imposed by international creditors were over after his Syriza party swept to victory in a snap election on Jan. 25.

(Reporting by Julien Toyer; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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