Others rallied in scores of cities including Barcelona, Valencia, Zaragoza and Palma de Mallorca, responding to calls on online social networks, television coverage, and the Real Democracy Now protest organisation.
“We are tired of the unemployment, the corruption of politicians. It is always the same thing. I have no job and I don’t see how I can get one any time soon,” said 25-year-old Jordi Perez in Madrid.
“They have to know how we feel,” Perez said.
Spain’s jobless rate hit 21.19 percent in the first quarter of this year, the highest in the industrialised world. For the young the situation is more desperate: 44.6 percent unemployment for under-25s in February.
Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s ruling Socialist Party was “alarmed” by the protesters, fearing them to be disaffected left-wing supporters who would abandon the party at the ballot box, the leading daily El Pais said.
Weekend polls forecast devastating losses for the Socialists as voters punish them for the government’s handling of the economic crisis, including painful austerity measures.