NPR

Spain Bans Mass Protests Ahead Of Weekend Elections

Protests in Madrid on Madrid Thursday May 19, 2011. (AP)

Thousands of people have jammed dozens of Spanish cities, including Madrid, protesting the country's skyrocketing unemployment rate; it jumped to more than 21 percent at the beginning of the year, according to AFP. But Spanish law requires a 'day of reflection' before a vote, meaning no political demonstrations may be held. Election officials have ruled the massive demonstrations must end before Sunday's local and regional elections.

The BBC says the decision was jeered in Puerta del Sol and dozens of other cities where people started to gather last Sunday, protesting Spanish austerity plans and government corruption. Spanish officials are trimming spending, hoping to avoid the budget crises faced by Greece, Ireland and neighbor, Portugal.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero says the demonstrations are 'understandable', according to Dow Jones but he won't permit them to interfere with voting.

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