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Barcelona’s Political Youth: The Lost Generation

Written by Emily Elwes

youth politics Barcelona unemployment graphThe youth of Catalonia and especially Barcelona have been especially active in voicing their political views in recent years, especially as youth unemployment skyrocketed to a high of 56% during the global financial crisis. That means almost 900,000 under 25-year-olds were out of work across the nation. This ‘lost generation’ as they are being hailed decided to start various youth political movements to effect change for a better future for themselves and future generations. Youth have had to remain with their parents, but for those lucky to find jobs can also find Barcelona apartments cheap with a little help.

Real Democracy NOW

The global financial crisis hit Spain especially hard with on of the highest unemployment figures in the European Union at over 20%, with only Greece being larger. The youth unemployment, however, was much higher and caused over half of the youth in the country in 2011 to start considering protests of the economic policies of the day. The first organization and protests formed into Real Democracy NOW and spread across Spain including Barcelona and Catalonia. Public and mainly peaceful demonstrations across 57 cities took Spain and the worldyouth politics Barcelona protesters by surprise. The movement spawned over 200 smaller youth political organizations in support of effecting change in Spain. Often referred as 15M, because the first protest action occurred on 15 May it also incited the larger worldwide Occupy Now movement that swept across North America and other Western nations around the world. From Greece, Iceland, and Spain as the beginnings of the movement, it quickly spread worldwide in a show of solidarity against governmental policy on the financial crisis and big business.

youth politics Barcelona occupy campsMoving Forward

As a direct result of this protest movement the youth of Spain and the European Union have been heard and are continuing to make impacts on policy. The MovEurope Forward project was developed by the Young European Federalists (JEF) that promote political activism among the young in regards to the European Parliament elections, in order to effect changes in member states. Its first Local Public Consultation was conducted in Barcelona with an eye on youth unemployment as a major concern among the youth demographic. During the youth conference, there were four basic areas discussed surrounding the ability to effect change in youth unemployment including youth mobility, basic income, a productive model, and how to include youth’s perspectives into the European Project. The effects of the financial crisis still linger in Barcelona as the employment rate has been excruciatingly slow to recover still hovering around 25% in the latest projections, although forecasts are improving and the economy is turning around. For those visiting this area, for weekly rentals in Barcelona or longer terms, being aware of the political situation is key.

The disheartened unemployed are the worst sector in the youth story; youth that has been unemployed for years and has simply given up looking. The positive side is that the politically active youth are attempting to change things for the future. If you have a story about political activism and the youth of Barcelona please share it below.

About the author

Emily Elwes

Emily is a freelance content editor & manager living & working in Barcelona. She's passionate about food, drink, language and collaborative consumption.

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