MADRID: Thousands of demonstrators hit the streets across Spain on Saturday in protest at the soaring cost of food, light and fuel, which have been exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The rallies, which took place in Spain’s main cities, were called by the far-right Vox party which sought to tap into growing social discontent over the spiralling cost of living that has left many families struggling to pay their bills.
Outside City Hall in Madrid, a crowd of several thousand people gathered, waving hundreds of Spanish flags and chanting angry slogans calling for the resignation of Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
“Sanchez, you’re rubbish, bring down our bills!” they shouted, between patriotic cries of “Long live Spain!” at a rally demanding government action to lower prices.
“We have the worst possible government.. It’s not even a government, it’s a misery factory… which plunders and extorts workers through abusive taxes,” Vox leader Santiago Abascal told the rally to rousing cheers.
“We will not leave the streets until this illegitimate government is expelled.”
This government “is taking everything from us”, said Anabel, a 56-year-old demonstrator who didn’t give her surname.
“They hike the light and gas prices and say it’s because of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, but that’s a lie. It was like this before,” she told AFP.
“Light prices really affect (my family) because some of us work from home, and we can hardly put the heating on because the price of gas has almost doubled over the past six months.”
Many said government should be lowering taxes to help those struggling.