Tens of Thousands March Through Madrid's Streets for Change

“The great March of Change”, in Madrid, Spain. Photo by Olmo Calvo, Diagonal newspaper. Republished under CC license.

More than 100,000 people filled Puerta del Sol, a plaza in the heart of the Spanish capital and a landmark of protests in recent years, asking for change on Saturday, January 31. Demonstrators across the political spectrum, of different ages, and from several cities in Spain gathered in Madrid in what is now known as the “Great March for Change”.

The rally was called by Podemos, a political party founded just one year ago that nevertheless won five seats in the European Parliament, positioning itself as a potential winner of the Spanish general elections in 2016. The party has a strong commitment to citizens and has collected ideas raised during the years of outrage and protest following the financial crisis that rocked Spain. Responding to Podemos’ call for the march, citizens turned up by the tens of thousands, giving the party massive support in the streets.

La Marcha convocada por Podemos sigue su curso. Foto de Wassim Zabad. Usada con permiso

 Photo by Wassim Zabad. Used with permission.

The march on January 31 was presented as a political assembly in which the audience was able to attend the interventions by members of Podemos. The audience appropriated the most famous slogans of the Indignado Movement (15M)–the 2011-12 massive protests after the economic crisis. This time, however, unlike previous demonstrations the outrage was not the only reason for the rally–the will to join forces to change the system was also at the heart of the movement. “Yes, we can” was the most heard cry, also chanted in other rallies of recent years, to express that citizens feel empowered to end corruption and the reign of a political elite that does not look out for their interests.

“We dream, but we take our dreams very seriously,” was the most repeated phrase by Pablo Iglesias, the Podemos party leader who organized the march through a viral online campaign. He began his speech by referring to Greece, which has elected the Syriza party, which opposes the European elite, to form a government.

Greece is the first country that will reject austerity measures, according to Podemos, and the party plans for Spain to be the second with it leading the government. Spain faces the problems of inequality, poverty, and exclusion, Iglesias said, denouncing the country's recent governments. He also presented proposals for change as a way of stressing the need to take a left turn: “2015 is the year of change for Spain and Europe.”

Varias generaciones escuchan al líder de Podemos. Foto de David Fernández. Periódico Diagonal

Several generations listen to the leader of Podemos. Photo by David Fernández. Diagonal newspaper. Republished under CC License.

The leader paid tribute to activist groups that have fought to defend people's rights in the past and now: the teachers and students that formed a green tide in defense of education, the white coats who locked themselves inside hospitals for public health care, women who fought for the right to abortion, “the tireless grandparents” who have struggled for social justice for future generations, the “deceived people” who have fought against the banks, and migrant workers who have struggled to stop evictions. “Thanks for being the popular movement that will allow the change. Never again a country without its people,” he concluded.

Twitter users have used the social network to share photos and videos of the event, the reasons for their participation in the march, and even their dreams about that day:

The people said enough to crooks, corrupts and false patriots … change is in our hands! #EsAhora31E pic.twitter.com/rwadufhEj2

This Saturday the dream and hope for change will flood Madrid:> 31E Cibeles-Sol 12H < #LaMarchaDelCambio pic.twitter.com/WHQi0uOs3L

Madrid, 31E. You can feel the dream of the people who are building their future with joy and hope pic.twitter.com/IIxfIjNtSU #SonreirEsVencer

href = “http://t.co/IIxfIjNtSU”> pic.twitter.com/IIxfIjNtSU#SonreirEsVencer

Tic, tock. Tic, tock. The sound of change. #EsAhora31E

Cartel por el cambio. Foto de Wassim Zabad. Usada con permiso.

Poster in support of the change. Photo by Wassim Zabad. Used with permission.

Today is a constituent moment. It's time for the people. We will not forget the #31e @ierrejon petandola #EsAhora31E pic.twitter.com/SRcXdLECLZ


  • John H Newcomb

    Podemos leaders such as Pablo Iglesias think Ukraine’s government is full o’ fascists but if Podemos is similar to Syriza, no doubt like Syriza’s evident ties to Russian fascists like Aleksander Dugin, we’ll find out that Podemos has ties to Russian fascists too: “Syriza’s neo-fascist friends from Russia”: http://www.interpretermag.com/aleksandr-dugin-and-greeces-syriza-connection/

    • Kevin Schmidt

      Ukraine’s government is full of neo-Nazi fascists backed by the US Government. They used terrorism to overthrow a democratically elected government, and installed a fascist puppet government to the US.
      Get back to us when you have some real facts instead of just speculation and propaganda. Until then, the biggest problem in the world is ties to US fascism and the global corporate elite.

    • Guest

      Meet a typical pukin’s troll “Kevin Schmidt”, one of these pseudo-western “John Siskins” who flood the web with comments like “I’m not for putin but Ukrainians are bad guys”.
      They are paid with Russian taxpayers’ money.

  • Vixpix1

    Americans passively accept whatever corporatist policies the powers that be cook up for them. Wars in the Middle East where we do the fighting while our alleged allies hold our coat — sure. TPP, where decisions to govern ourselves can be overturned by corporate run courts; negotiated in secret and then ramroded through Congress — OK. Attacks on every aspect of our social safety net programs, which already lag those of other countries — what the hell. Our very structure stinks of inequality, where Republicans control the Senate despite getting 20 million fewer votes nationwide.

    Yet we have no movement to form a third party. We’re content to graze on Fox News and reality shows. There’s ten thousand times more airtime given to whether the Seattle Snotknockers can beat the New England Deflateriots in the WilltheBudweiserdoggiecomehome Bowl than to the issue of global warming.

    Please, spare me the hissy fits about the Green Party, whose motto should be “We’ve been around for 50 years — a free set of Tourister luggage to anyone who can name a single thing we’ve accomplished”.

    Podemos has been around for about a year, and they’re on the verge of winning the next election. Things can be accomplished by people who try. VIVA PODEMOS!

  • […] article by Elena Arrontes (translated by Diana Navarrete) was originally published by Global Voices Online,  a website that translates and reports on blogs from around the […]

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.