Madrid election authorities have banned a march planned for Saturday, the day before Spain holds local and regional elections, saying it violates the spirit of the “reflection day” established by law.
The demonstration was called by the 15-M popular protest movement, heir to the Indignados social uprising that began on May 15, 2011 with a demonstration in Madrid’s Sol Square. This original march led to public sit-ins and growing grassroots support for an overhaul of Spanish politics.
The Madrid Provincial Electoral Committee said on Thursday evening that the march planned for May 23 “contravenes electoral legislation, and thus cannot be held.”
The 15-M Movement and everyone else have to respect what the law says”
Madrid government delegate Concepción Dancausa
In an interview with radio network Onda Cero, government delegate in Madrid Concepción Dancausa warned that the authorities will “have to ensure that the law is respected” and will act “proportionately to whatever unfolds.”
“They are not there to create trouble, but to solve it,” she added.
This is not the first time that the 15-M movement has tried to stage a demonstration the day before elections. An earlier attempt in 2011 led to the same ban, though that time at the national level.
The idea behind “reflection day” is for all campaigning to come to a halt so voters may calmly reflect on their choices for the next day, without being unduly influenced by one party or another.
But even Dancausa admitted that this day of reflection “should probably be eliminated” because of today’s constant access to campaign information provided by the internet.
As long as that does not happen, however, “the 15-M Movement and everyone else have to respect what the law says.”
Dancausa said that the anti-austerity party Podemos, which pollsters believe may secure a significant number of seats at city councils and regional governments across Spain on Sunday, was born out of this spontaneous protest movement.
She also noted that 15-M leaders “could have chosen any other day” to stage their march, and that “these constant challenges to the State” are not good for democracy.