Scribbler in Seville

Catching the wave: a march for fairer democracy

Last night I was back down at the Setas, this time with my family, partly to take them up to the pasarela (kids not overly impressed – too young – more interested in Roman ruins seen while waiting for the lift).

The other reason was for the march, organised by the Acampada Sevilla, which left Plaza de España at 7pm, went down Avenida de la Constitucion, through Plaza Nueva and up to the Setas. We managed to time it so that we were there as the marchers arrived – luckily I got a great spot on a balcony.

Policeman leads march as its moves up Campana towards Plaza Encarnacion.

As each group arrived, there were waves of cheers, applause and chanting: “Que no nos representa!” (They don’t represent us), “Lo llama democracia pero no es!” (They call it democracy, but it isn’t!), and, most vociferously “El pueblo unido jamas sera vencido!” (The people united will never be defeated!). It is revolutionary stuff – this must be what it feels like to a ride on a wave of popular feeling. It was almost euphoric.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obtFQFjAn_4]

All the events I’ve witnessed here at the Setas – I’m an observer, rather than a participator, albeit a sympathetic one – have had a positive, uplifting, inclusive and friendly atmosphere. People are indignant, angry and fed up. But they are not taking it out on each other. They are channelling their energy into marches, meetings (assembleas) and are devising plans for how to put their demands to the government.

Demonstrators at head of march arrive, with banner: "15M movement, for a fair and participative democracy".

Crowd greets marchers as they arrive in Plaza Encarnacion.

The amount of indignados who took part in the march varies, as always, according to whom you trust more – the police (5,000) or the organisers (10,000). I was watching for half an hour as groups of protestors streamed in from Campana, filling up the square.

Marchers from nearby town Alacala de Guadaira arrive in the square.

"No job, no future, mortgage. How do I survive?"

The acampada has voted to stay in place until next Saturday. their political agenda is being decided this week, with a Consensus of Priorities to be confirmed: of the eight original points, four will be chosen as the main ones to concentrate on.

List of eight proposals; this is being whittled down to four priority ones.

Someone I spoke to at the acampada said he reckoned the first couple would be electoral reform – the current system makes it very difficult for parties other than the main two (Partido Popular, conservatives, and PSOE, socialists) to get a seat in parliament. Also, information about candidates for political office isn’t made public, or where funding for political parties comes from. In a political culture where corruption is endemic, this does not breed trust.

The other point he reckoned would make it to the Consensus of Priorities was government economic transparency – how much of the budget is spent on what. This would make the government more accountable – one of the main aims of this movement is for the people to be more involved in democracy, and to do that, they need to have a better idea of where their money is going, and why the economy in such a mess.

"Media manipulation"

I was astonished how little coverage the march and really received in the local press today – a couple of photos (OK, one on the front page), and then a short piece tucked away on page 15. I guess the traditional media doesn’t know how to deal with this phenomenon, which is driven entirely by social media – somethign they don’t get – and has all but bypassed conventional news outlets. Either that, or they think their readers won’t be interested; or maybe it’s just not attractive to the old-school editors.

The movement is being made even more local – its main national points are the Acampadas in major cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Valencina and Bilbao – asking each barrio for its view of the proposals. On 2 June there will be local meetings and another big march on 5 June.

You can find out more information from their Facebook page,  which also has some videos from last night’s demonstration and rally, or website.

One final thought: I saw someone refer to the Setas as Seville’s “agora” – the central square in Ancient Greek cities where people could speak in public about any topic. This concept was a central part of the world’s earliest democracy – “demos” in Greek means people, “cratos” means power. In the words of Citizen Smith, for those of you old enough to remember: “Power to the People!”

3 thoughts on “Catching the wave: a march for fairer democracy

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