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Despite export boom, Spain wracked by protests

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(Read caption) Protesters stand behind a cut-out figure of silent movie actor Charlie Chaplin during a protest outside the Palacio de la Musica cinema in Madrid, Spain, March 25. The cinema, built in 1926, is one of many cinemas and theaters that have closed down in the Gran Via and other areas of the city, only to be sold off for use as commercial businesses such as shopping centers. The banner reads 'In defense of our culture' and the speech bubble reads 'Save our cinemas.'

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The scale of this weekend’s anti-austerity protests in Spain spells political instability ahead for the country. Despite an influx of investor capital into the country’s export sector, the rest of Spain’s economy continues to lag, especially in creating employment for millions of young people.

“There’s a lot of frustration from all sides with the political establishment,” says our correspondent in Madrid. “Spain’s recovery, like much of the periphery, is a two-sided story. Some sectors are certainly benefiting, and there is growth, and there is job creation in some very specific sectors. But for broader society, there is no recovery.”

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The hundreds of thousands of protesters who turned out Saturday are looking for the government to roll back deep austerity cuts in health-care, education, and the welfare state. Frustration with the rising cost of living and an unemployment problem that will take at least a decade to clear up has brought even center-right voters into the anti-austerity fold. But with fiscal targets mandated by the European Union, politicians’ hands are mostly tied, our correspondent notes.

The ruling center-right party looks increasingly weak heading into a trio of elections over the next year and a half. The ruling party hasn’t even fielded its candidate for European parliamentary elections in May, essentially throwing in the towel, our correspondent says.... For the rest of the story, continue reading at our new business publication Monitor Global Outlook.