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Wave Of Protests To Hit Troubled E.U. States

Some 70,000 took part in the demonstration in Madrid and 50,000 in Barcelona, according to organizers. The protests are the first of a wave of rolling demonstrations planned for other towns and cities lasting until March 6th. Protesters say that it is unfair that they bear the burden of a crisis caused by banks and other financial institutions.
“There is in fact a problem and reforms must be made to pension systems in general.”

Tens of thousands of Spaniards protested on Tuesday evening across the country in anger at the government’s plans to raise the retirement age. The protests are the first of a wave of rolling demonstrations planned for other towns and cities lasting until 6 March, with similar action expected in some of the EU’s worst crisis-hit economies – Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain – collectively known by the acronym PIGS.
Some 70,000 took part in the demonstration in Madrid and 50,000 in Barcelona, according to organizers.
Police estimated the crowd to be much less.
Called by the UGT and CCOO trade unions, the Spanish demonstrators focussed their anger on the Socialist government’s announced raising of the retirement age from 65 to 67, along with cuts to the public sector of €50 billion phased in over three years and a civil service hiring freeze.
The austerity measures, announced by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero in January, are aimed at bringing down the state’s public deficit, which exploded as a result of the economic crisis to some 11.4 percent of GDP, well above the 3 percent limit imposed by Eurozone rules.
Protesters for their part say that it is unfair that they bear the burden of a crisis caused not by them but by banks and other financial institutions.
The cuts are massively unpopular, with some 84 percent of the population opposed, according to a poll by Spanish centre-left daily El Pais.