We want a job

“We want a job”, “I conspire 35 hours per week”, “Rebels without a home”, “I want a decent home” are some of the slogans that can be read on the posters that those labeled indignados (outraged) hold up every day since May 15. In Spain, the unemployment rate is 21.29% and it is considered the biggest currently problem in Spain.

On the other hand, the youth unemployment rate (the share of unemployed among the total population: employed, unemployed and inactive, aged 15-24) is 20.4% in the EU27 and 19.4% in the euro area.

In Spain, the  43.5% of the population under 25 years of age are unemployed.

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an alarming rate of young people  are working in a precarious situation (those between 16 and 25 years of age): 45.4% of their contracts are on a temporary basis. This is also the case in other industrialized countries: on average, 23% of the contracted workers are in jobs below their qualifications, however the percentage spikes in the Spanish case with as much as 40% working below their aptitude level.

The 40% of the population between 25 and 34 have completed tertiary education in Spain However, over 40% of graduates work jobs that are not commensurate with their professional, and whose salary is almost half that of their European counterparts. By the same token, Spanish university students are the lowest paid, have jobs with worse conditions and emancipate themselves at an older age when compared to other European peers. Many graduates scramble to get unpaid work waiting to be hired later and others choose to go to work abroad.

In Spain, there has been no clear commitment to Professional Training and enrollment rates, although they have increased in recent years, are significantly lower than both the OECD average (47.4%) and EU (52.9%).

If we analyze the situation by gender, it can be seen that women suffer higher rates of temporary employment and unemployment, despite the fact that females have invested more time and typically reach higher levels of education.

So… ¿will be this a lost generation?

This situation is particularly bad for young people who lack minimum educational levels. If they cannot find or keep a first job, they run the risk that they are committed to long-term unemployment benefits. It has been called the lost generation, but most of them do not identify with this description, and they react, outraged, and reacting is the first step towards changing the situation.

Those at a greater disadvantage are those who left school prematurely lured by good wages and the amount of work offered by the construction sector which grew in an artificial way and seemed to be endless.

A generation that believe a better World is possible

“We want action, not words”, “Bankers to the dock”, “We wont take it anymore”, “Save Democracy”, “Our dreams don’t fit in your ballot box”, are other slogans that abound in the Spanish concentrations against the country’s ongoing financial crisis, its politicians and their performances since May 15th . Large demonstrations reflect a political disaffection towards a system that has done little to fight against tax fraud and rampant corruption in political parties.

The citizens do not understand why they have to pay for a crisis that they do not feel they are responsible for. They feel forgotten and are affected by tax cuts that are deteriorating and privatizing essential services like education and health.

On the other hand, other methods of informing and associating oneself are emerging. The media are not impervious to the criticism, media manipulation driven by politicians who often do use sensitive issues to confront citizens in order to gain voters or accuse immigrants for the crisis. Other forms of association such as trade unions are also  in crisis: Spanish membership rates (around 20%) is one of the lowest in Europe.

The short-term outcome

Last Sunday, elections were held on the municipal level, as well as for most Autonomous Communities throughout Spain. The Partido Popular, the conservative party, was the political option chosen by the voters, garnering almost 558,000 more votes than in the 2007 elections. However, the outcome of the recent elections was highlighted by the vote against the Partido Socialista Obrero Español, PSOE (the party that is currently in the government, which lost more than 1,480,000 votes from the previous elections) and the significant increase in the voided votes and the blank ballots, that numbered almost 975,000 (284,000 more than in 2007).

But this does not discourage many of the “indignados”, who call themselves nonpartisan (“no one represents us” is another of their most repeated slogans). Despite the election results, a great success should be recognized: they have succeeded introducing a political consciousness, have been heard and recognized, they are creating a network and it has started an riveting movement with a peaceful nature.

This is a nonprofit explanation.

Leave a Reply to Jamie Fowlie Cancel Reply


  1. Jamie Fowlie

    It is inaccurate to say that there has been a shift to the right in the recent elections. There was an increase in voter turnout by 3% and the PP (single Conservative party) only gained 1% in the final count). Of the 1.5 million new votes from the previous 2007 election, the conservative won about 500,000. This is less (not more) than their final percentage (37%) of the overall vote.

    There is NO shift. There was no doubt that PP would win the election in terms of numbers, but there has been no SHIFT to the right. There was nothing more than a vote AGAINST the PSOE (socialist) party. Where did those votes go if not to PP? They went left, and they went in spoiled or blank ballots.

    This is good news for the Real Democracy Now movement. It means the electorate is waiting for a true Alternative. Let’s hope one emerges in the months to come.

    • Anna Martinez Codina

      Thanks for your comment, Jamie.

      Although in this post we were just explaining the outcome of the elections, the passage you refer to has been extended in order to introduce the nuances that you have mentioned.

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