Madrid (CNN) -- Several thousand demonstrators took to the streets of the Spanish capital Sunday, protesting unemployment a week before voters elect a new government.
The march past the world-famous Prado museum and Madrid's city hall ended at the Puerta del Sol plaza, where economic protests began last May.
As riot police passed the demonstrators, protesters shouted "Less police, more education," a criticism of cutbacks in education during Spain's deep economic crisis.
The demonstration was smaller than one held October 15, when at least 10,000 people marched in Madrid on a day when Occupy Wall Street-style protests spread to Europe, Asia and Australia.
The Spanish newspaper El Pais said tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Barcelona that day.
Similar protests over the economy turned violent in Italy, with at least 70 people injured and a government building set on fire, but the Spanish demonstrations remained peaceful.
Protester Esteban Guerrero, 25, who's been to a dozen protests since last May, said he was not discouraged by the smaller crowd on Sunday.
"Each demonstration is not just one more," Guerrero said. "Many young people and workers take part. Some are bigger than others but what's important is that thousands turn out each time."
A journalism student in his final year of university, he said his job prospects after graduation are bleak, with the country's youth unemployment rate about 45%, twice the national average.
"It's a very precarious situation for young people in Spain, and getting worse, like it is for youth in Greece and Portugal. There's a big deterioration," Guerrero said.
Next Sunday's election, which the opposition conservatives are expected to win, will not be enough to change things, he added.
"I think it's necessary to vote, but that's not enough. People feel the elections won't change the situation. They won't stop the cutbacks," he said.
That's why people keep coming out onto the streets, he said.