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Racing Hard and Sleeping Rough: An Interesting Weekend in Spain

It was a good weekend for Spaniards Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa as they fought their way to first and second position at the Italian MotoGP. Yamaha’s Lorenzo triumphed in Mugello, taking an early lead before finishing five seconds ahead; bringing his total wins this season to five. He described it as ‘a tough race’ but said that riding ‘well and clean’ had led to victory. The former champion is now on 185 points, 19 points clear of his closest rival and fellow countryman Pedrosa. The two Spanish riders dominated the race, relegating Andrea Dovizioso to third position on his home circuit.

However, whilst Lorenzo and Pedrosa were celebrating their podium positions, thousands of other Spaniards faced a far less pleasant evening.

As night fell in Madrid protesters were massed in droves, taking part in the latest anti-austerity demonstration.

The protesters began gathering early in the afternoon after being called to arms through social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. They chanted ‘Hold up your hands, this is a theft’ in response to proposed reforms as they marched to the headquarters of the Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. Their anger was directed towards the government’s decision to implement austerity measures which include wage reduction and the cutting of jobs in the civil service sector – the biggest cuts Spain has seen in nearly thirty years.

Although there were no altercations with police, to express the extent of their opposition to the severity of the Spanish government’s course many protesters prepared to spend the night on the streets. They demonstrated their commitment to the cause by sleeping rough after learning that they had been barred from taking position outside the Spanish Parliament.

One protester, a fireman, shared his belief that the steps the government plans to take are not the right ones. He stated that: ‘Spain is in a difficult situation, but the solution will not only come from the civil servants. Everyone has to help. Fiscal amnesty for those who stole money and for me, they lowered my salary three times already!’

This demonstration follows last week’s miner’s march and will certainly not be the last act of resistance from the Spanish population. The two biggest unions in the country have already promised to instigate widespread action in the autumn, although they have yet to announce whether the action they propose will take the form of a general strike.

Although the aim of the measures is to save Spain 65 billion Euros and to slow their spiralling debt, their unpopularity could prove a major stumbling block for the government.

This morning the euro dropped to 78.55 pence, its lowest value against the pound since 2008. This latest dip won’t help Spain resolve its financial crisis, but nor will it prevent the population from continuing to protest until they are heard.