High-school teachers in the Spanish capital started a two-day strike Tuesday, disrupting the school days of hundreds of thousands of youths as opposition to sweeping austerity measures starts to harden ahead of general elections this November in the euro zone’s fourth-largest economy.
The Madrid protests were echoed by demonstrations across the country against spending cuts on education. Teachers in Galicia, in northwest Spain, have called a strike for later this month. The protests follow close on the heels of a series of rallies called by unions against new constitutional budget controls they say will undermine the social welfare state.
The cuts in education are part of a new round of austerity from regional governments as Spain aims to narrow its budget deficit to 6% of gross domestic product this year, from just over 9% in 2010. Most of the country’s 17 regions are now in the hands of the conservative Popular Party. Currently in the opposition at the national level, the Popular Party is widely tipped by opinion polls to win the Nov. 20 elections and oust the incumbent Socialists. If he becomes prime minister, party leader Mariano Rajoy has pledged to follow the example of austerity set by the regions, regardless of any public backlash.