After working for 47 years, Spaniard Alfonso Blas says the paltry pension increase he's being offered is a scandal "They tell us the crisis is gone, so why is my pension going up by one euro?" the 65-year-old retired bank branch worker asked. "I worked my entire adult life -- this didn't come for free."
As Spain enters its fifth year of economic recovery, a campaign of nationwide protests by pensioners like Blas -- a group traditionally sympathetic to the conservative policies of the ruling People's Party -- is posing an unexpected challenge to Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. Mindful of its potential cost to his party as his support plunges in opinion polls, Rajoy called a parliamentary session on Wednesday at which he appealed for calm over the future of the system and pledged to propose increases for minimum pensions and payments to widows.
"We don't understand any society that won't guarantee payments sufficient to ensure a dignified life for our elderly," said Rajoy in his speech to parliament. "An economic policy that creates jobs and increases the number of contributors to social security is key."
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