The crowds packed Puerta del Sol square into the early hours of Thursday and pledged to stay there until after municipal and regional elections this weekend.

Thousands of Spaniards have defied a ban on demonstrations and have mounted a protest camp in the heart of the Spanish capital to express anger at political parties and the country’s handling of the economic crisis.

The crowds packed Puerta del Sol square into the early hours of Thursday and pledged to stay there until after municipal and regional elections this weekend.

The Madrid electoral board banned the demonstration because it could influence the elections on Sunday.

Some 500 riot police stood guard but did not intervene.

Similar demonstrations have been held daily in other Spanish cities.

The protests are a spillover from countrywide demonstrations last Sunday and have triggered a lively debate throughout the country.

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