Spaniards defy ban with all-night party

Some 25,000 people, according to Spanish media, crammed the central Puerta del Sol square and surrounding streets late on Friday to stage a silent protest and then erupted in whistles and cheers of joy as the ban, ordered by Spain’s election commission, took effect at midnight.

“Now we are all illegal” and “the people united will never be defeated,” were among the chants of the protesters.

Thousands remained until the early hours of Saturday amid a party atmosphere in the vast square in the heart of city’s historic old town.

But by morning only a few hundred were camped in tents or under cardboard boxes below the blue tarpaulins that cover much of the square.

Dozens, however, began leaving the site with their sleeping bags or mattresses, as cleaners tried to clear up the mess left behind.

Spain’s leading daily El Pais said around 60,000 people took part in nationwide protests during the night. Apart from Madrid, the largest gatherings were in Valencia, where 10,000 took part, in Malaga, with 7,000, and in Barcelona, where some 6,000 turned out.

Smaller demonstrations also took place in Granada, Sevilla, Almeria, Cadiz, Santander, Bilbao, San Sebastian and La Coruna.

No major incidents were reported and police did not intervene.

Thousands of people have massed in city centres across the country in an swelling movement that began on May 15, the biggest spontaneous protests since the property bubble exploded in 2008 and plunged Spain into a recession from which it only emerged this year.

Calling for “Real Democracy Now”, the protests, popularly known as M-15, were called to condemn Spain’s soaring unemployment, economic crisis, politicians in general, and corruption.

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