SPAIN IS THE NEW GREECE: And This Time It's Big Enough To Matter...

spain strike march 29 2012Police officers are seen next to burning trash containers during clashes with demonstrators during the general strike in Barcelona, Thursday, March 29, 2012. Spanish unions angry over economic reforms are waging a general strike, challenging a conservative government not yet 100 days old and joining other troubled European workers in venting their frustration on the street.

Photo: AP/Emilio Morenatti

Spanish trade unions are holding a general strike across the country today to protest new labour reforms, and by all accounts it has been a largely peaceful protest.While for the most part conditions on the ground are relatively normal, photos from Madrid, Barcelona, and Pamplona indicated that some young protestors are escalating the angst, painting symbols supporting anarchy on walls, and causing small bouts of destruction.

Such events are reminiscent of similar protests in Syntagma Square, Greece, where groups of youthful protestors turned riotous despite generally calm strikes.

Two major points give us particular trepidation: the fact that these and similar protests closely resemble early protests in Greece a few years ago—when almost no one realistically considered the possibility of a Greek debt restructuring—and the sheer scale of Spanish youth unemployment.

As in Greece, young people have been seen as responsible for escalating peaceful political protests to violent riots. Spain’s unemployment data suggest that protests there could eventually be much larger—nearly half of young people are already unemployed and they face a tough future and a shrinking social safety net amid economic contraction and austerity measures.

We can’t help but ask: Could Spain turn into the next Greece?

But then again, all these images may not tell the full story.

These charts indicate that the scale of the protest is really not so large, even in comparison to previous strikes. Drops in energy consumption--today 14.4%--are generally seen seen as indicators of participation levels.

Some sources in Spain told us that they found the situation in the streets normal, save for significant work stoppage.

Source: via @efnbsbun

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