The times are a changin’ in Puerta del Sol. (Aitor Aguirre)

Just days before local elections in Spain, 15,000 protesters have gathered in the main Puerta del Sol square of Madrid, protesting planned austerity measures.

The Spanish demonstrations have spread across the country to Sevilla, Granada and Valencia, encouraged by youth groups and social media campaigns.

The Madrid electoral board banned demonstrations, but thousands defied the prohibition, setting up camp in the square, with more people arriving each day.

Though riot police have been deployed in some cities, they have not intervened in the protests. Simon Hunter at the Spanish newspaper El Pais reported that the Cadiz mayor has said, “If they're demonstrations are independent, they have every right to be there.”

The chant has gone up in support of the youth group “Real Democracia Ya,” or True Democracy Now.

The economic crisis faced by Spain over the past year has spurred on the protests. Spain has an unemployment rate of 21 percent. Around 4.9 million people are without jobs, CNN reports.

The protesters contend that the country has deteriorated because of corrupt politicians and bankers. Bloomberg reports that a manifesto in Puerta del Sol states politicians facing corruption charges should be barred from running for election; the Senate, the upper house of Parliament, should be scrapped; and the voting system should be changed to make it more representative.

El Pais has a live blog of the events here.

Here’s a map of the protests so far:


Ver Mapa de las acampadas en un mapa más grande

(Arturo Rodriguez/AP)