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Tens of Thousands Rally in Madrid for Anti-Austerity Party

  • VOA News

People shout slogans during a Podemos party march in Madrid, Jan. 31, 2015.

People shout slogans during a Podemos party march in Madrid, Jan. 31, 2015.

Tens of thousands of people marched Saturday through the streets of Madrid in the biggest show of support yet for new anti-austerity party Podemos, which has been drawing comparisons to Greece's new ruling party, Syriza.

The crowds chanted, "Yes, we can!" as they converged on the central Puerta del Sol square. Many waved Greek flags and signs reading, "The change is now."

Podemos, which means "we can," emerged just a year ago but is already poised to shake up the country's traditional two-party system. In May, it produced a major shock by winning five seats in elections for the European Parliament.

People fill the main square of Madrid during a march by members of the Podemos party, which hopes to emulate the electoral success of Greece’s Syriza party in elections later this year, Jan. 31, 2015.

People fill the main square of Madrid during a march by members of the Podemos party, which hopes to emulate the electoral success of Greece’s Syriza party in elections later this year, Jan. 31, 2015.

Opinion polls show it could take the top spot in Spain's general election later this year.

Led by political science professor Pablo Iglesias, 36, Podemos aims to emulate Syriza's success in the Greek elections this past Sunday.

Both Spain and Greece have suffered devastating economic crises, resulting in massive unemployment and public spending cuts. Numerous political corruption scandals have only furthered public anger.

Spaniards frustrated with corruption and the political elite have flocked to Podemos and its message of change.

Critics of the party, meanwhile, have accused it of supporting left-wing governments in Latin America, including in Venezuela.

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