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Spanish defy pre-election protest ban

Large crowds across Spain defied a government ban on pre-election demonstrations yesterday, gathering in central squares to protest against high unemployment and politicians they consider inept.

Regional and municipal elections are being held today and the day before is called "a day for reflection" when campaigning and political acts are banned.

Many people, especially the young, feel indignation at the political class, which they say has failed to deal adequately with an economic crisis that has saddled Spain with a 21.3 per cent jobless rate, the highest in the 17-nation eurozone.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero had urged protesters to respect the day of reflection but also said he was sensitive to the concerns of young people who were finding it particularly hard to find work.

Sunday Independent