It seems that every week there’s a new protest movement in Spain. Recently, on May 1st, Spanish protestors took to the streets for improved working conditions. In March, Spain protested the Brussels-Ankara draft that would send immigrants back to Turkey. On International Women’s Day in March, Spanish women took a stand to end gender violence and femicide. Last year, Spanish demonstrators rallied to abolish the national tradition of bullfighting due to animal cruelty.
Two years ago, a protest to end all protests was fought over Spain’s “gag law” or “ley mordaza”. The law threatened a 30,000 fine for protests in front of government buildings and unauthorized photos of law enforcement. Fittingly, citizens protested this law in front of parliament.
Dalia decided to look deeper into this phenomenon and determine if Spanish people are really showing greater activism than other Europeans. The results of Dalia’s survey show that Spanish people are, indeed, more likely to join a protest than any of the 6 largest EU countries. 31% of Spanish respondents say they are likely to join a protest within the next 12 months compared to 19% of all Europeans. Only 27% say they are not at all likely to join a protest, compared to 41% of Europeans who say the same.
Additionally, the protest culture in Spain has a large base of student activists. In Europe as a whole, the tendency is that full time workers are more likely to protest than other citizens and students (presumably because of labor union strikes, protests for wage increases, etc). But in Spain, the reverse is true: while 33% of full time workers are likely to join a protest, a staggering 42% of students also plan to protest in the coming year. The average EU student protest participation rate is just 14%.
While protesting has been an effective way for people to put pressure on the government and implement change, some argue that an overabundance of protests can indicate an unhealthy government. For example, as Quartz’s Tripti Lahiri explains, while South Korea’s protest culture is extremely efficient and effective (they succeeded in getting President Park Geun-Hye impeached) it actually indicates that people’s only recourse is public demonstration because the formal institutional processes have been corrupted or are malfunctioning.
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Image by Marcello Vicidomini