Or should I say why it is tweeted. Next Sunday’s regional and municipal elections in Spain have been the spark for the #spanishrevolution, a protest movement that was born in Twitter less than a week ago and that is now mobilizing tens of thousands of people all around the country, with Madrid’s Puerta del Sol as its epicentre, Twitter permitting, of course.
The movement evolved from being #15mani (demonstration 15, referring to the date of the first clash) and #nolesvotes (don’t vote for them) to #Democraciarealya (real democracy now), but it is also known as #nonosvamos (we are not leaving), and #acampadasol (camping at Sol). Another popular hashtag is #yeswecamp. No need to explain it, I think, as neither needs 15-M, with the date and the M for Madrid or May put together in a way that makes one think of 11-M, the tragic date and month of the bombings in Atocha station.
This apparently chaotic and disorganized twitter universe exemplifies the very essence of the movement: spontaneous, even if some want to see a dark hand behind it, heterogeneous, even if others want to see only young or unemployed people involved, and unpredictable. It is neither clear what they want, nor where they are heading nor how long the protests will last. They have already warned that the movement does not finish with Saturday’s elections.
It is however possible to identify a few of their requests and slogans, even if I am sure not all the protesters share all of them: no to politicians’ privileges, no to corruption, media neutrality, electoral reform, economic measures to take the country out of the desperate situation it is in. One may think it is a demonstration against the government, but I am not even sure about that. Some are angry with the government, some with the opposition, but most with politicians in general. Anger and frustration are what, ultimately, unite all those people, and what have made other in many other Spanish cities join the protest.
Twitter acted as the platform needed to spread those feelings, to let people know that they were not alone, helped to organise the first camp at Puerta del Sol and is still the boiling ground in which many communicate what is happening in Madrid and beyond.
International media coverage also reflects this confusion. It was reflected on the Washington Post’s frontpage, with one of the best photos of the protest, and while CNN says it is caused by unemployment, which is higher than 20% and specially hits young people with a rate of around 40%, the BBC even compares it with the Egyptian revolution, saying that, as in Tahrir square, the pacific demonstrators are organizing the protests in committees.
I think that some comparisons are at least risky, as the situation in Spain has nothing to do with that of Egypt or Tunisia, but the truth is that the basis is the same; discontent, mainly with the political class. Madrid could be the European version of what happened in North Africa, especially if the movement spreads to other countries… and this morning Twitter already woke up with the trending topic #italianrevolution.
Twitter acted as the platform needed to spread those feelings, to let people know that they were not alone, helped to organise the first camp at Puerta del Sol and is still the boiling ground in which many communicate what is happening in Madrid and beyond. Both Spain and Italy are now approaching elections, both countries face a complicated economic situation and citizens of both countries are tired of learning about political scandals through the news.
The unanswered question is now how this civic movement will affect the elections, and what will be its ultimate consequences. While waiting for the answer, the revolution continues to be tweeted.