Europe’s 2013 protest season finally kicked off this week. On Saturday, three days after the umpteenth general strike paralyzed Greece, a “citizens’ wave” of indignation washed over Spain with hundreds of thousands of protesters swarming onto the streets of Madrid and over 80 cities in yet another major popular outcry against the ongoing financial coup d’étât. In Madrid, clashes broke out and at least 40 were arrested after police sought to disperse protesters who had once more encircled Parliament.
Saturday’s demonstration in Spain was deliberately timed to coincide with the 32nd anniversary of El Tejerazo, an attempted coup d’étât by Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Tejero, who in 1981 led a military contingent of 200 armed officers as they stormed into Congress while it was in the process of electing a new Prime Minister. Although King Juan Carlos publicly condemned the coup, Der Spiegel last year revealed secret documents showing that the King privately sympathized with the coup.
For millions of Spaniards, the embarrassing issue of the country’s anachronistic aristocracy is enough of a headache already. As Spain’s crisis burst out into the open, King Juan Carlos infamously went elephant-hunting in Botswana, amply displaying the insensitivity and aloofness of the head of state (who also serves as honorary president of the country’s WWF branch). Meanwhile, the King’s daughter and son-in-law are facing major corruption charges for multi-million euro fraud and money-laundering.