Tens of thousands of people marched in dozens of cities across Spain today to protest tough government spending cuts they say will only increase already record high unemployment and deepen the country’s second recession in three years.
Reuters reported that trade unions have threatened to call a general strike, possibly in November, unless the centre-right government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy holds a referendum on the unpopular austerity measures, which are aimed at stabilizing the country's economy.
"It's up to the government whether there's a general strike or not. If they were going to hold a referendum things would be completely different," said Ignacio Fernandez Toxo, leader of Comisiones Obreras, was quoted as saying.
The jobless rate in the eurozone’s fourth-largest economy is nearly 25 percent, while youth unemployment is above 50 percent.
The Associated Press reported there were protests in 56 cities today.
Demonstrators chanted slogans against the cuts, which they say have gone too far, and held placards reading “youth without jobs, society with no future.”
Spain has moved to the centre of the eurozone crisis and there are growing expectations that its government, which was elected last December, will cave into pressure and seek international financial aid to bring its borrowing costs under control.
The government has already received a line of credit of 100 billion euros to bail out its troubled banks.
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And the government last month unveiled the country’s 2013 budget, which ordered ministries to cut spending by $51.3 billion.
That followed $84 billion in cuts and taxes that were announced in July.
But as the country sinks further into recession there are fears that these measures won't be enough to repair the country's severely battered finances and many observers believe Spain will require a full-blown bailout from its eurozone partners.
More from GlobalPost: Protests puncture euro zone optimism