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Spain protesters vote to dismantle Puerta del Sol tent city

Demonstrators plan to return to Madrid square for assemblies and debates, but hardcore elements want to remain in place

Spain's spontaneous youth protesters on Wednesday promised to dismantle the tent city that has occupied Madrid's central Puerta del Sol square for three weeks, while hardcore elements who want to remain in place risk splitting the movement.

The so-called "indignant ones" will leave on Sunday, four weeks after a demonstration calling for reforms to the country's political system turned into a huge camp-out that spread to dozens of cities across Spain.

They will go with a goodbye rally, but without agreeing on a basic set of demands to put to politicians in a country where youth unemployment has hit 45%.The protests have brought a generation of young Spaniards into the political arena for the first time, with polls showing more than 70% of people feel sympathy towards them. "Young Spaniards have now learnt that they can do something, that they have strength and can react to what is going on," said blogger Ignacio Escolar. "This is not the end. I think they will use that strength again."

"The agreement was to remove the camp but keep coming back into the square for our assemblies and debates," said Nicolás, a Puerta del Sol spokesman. "Those who want to stay must decide how they want to do that and put their proposals to an assembly. If there is no consensus backing them, then they won't represent the movement."

Agreement was reached in the early hours of Wednesday at a mass assembly. The movement will continue its protests by calling one-off demonstrations, co-ordinating with groups that have sprung up in cities across Spain. It will also hold open assemblies at the Puerta del Sol to debate proposals for a set of demands to deal with political corruption, electoral reform and government transparency.

But some campers did not want to leave. "I've been here since the beginning and this now feels like my family," said a woman on the free food stall."If we leave, this whole thing will go down the drain."

"I need to take a rest," said another man. "I can come here every few days, but not every single day."

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