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Violence flares as protesters ‘besiege’ Spanish parliament

Source: DW

Police and protesters have clashed at an anti-government demo in the Spanish capital, Madrid, with bottles thrown and officers making baton charges. The government is set to reveal a new plan to turn the economy around.

There were violent scenes close to the Spanish national parliament on Thursday, as unrest broke out at a demonstration by protesters calling for politicians to stand down.

Some 1,000 activists gathered in front of a police barrier surrounding Madrid’s lower house of parliament, some attempting to pull the barricade down. A group threw bottles and firecrackers at police, who responded with baton charges.

Spanish daily newspaper El Pais reported on its website early Friday morning that 29 people had been injured, 14 of them police. A further 15 people were arrested, with parliament cancelling its session for the day.

The “Siege of Parliament” protest came hours after the release of official figures showing that unemployment had risen above 27 percent, with 6.2 million people jobless.

Among the signs protesters carried aloft were: “6.2 million reasons.”

The demo was organized by the political online platform ¡En Pie! (Stand Up!), an amalgam of political groups calling for the resignations of lawmakers, the dissolution of both the upper and lower houses parliament and a new political process.

Spanish protests against government austerity

Critics of both the current center-right government and the previous center-left administration claim the political classes have failed the country.

Anarchists arrested over fire plot

Police and the Interior Ministry said arrests were made ahead of the demo, including four members of an anarchist group who had been plotting to set fire to a bank.

Opposition parties claim that austerity policies introduced under Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy since he came to power in December 2011 are to blame for rising unemployment.

Rajoy’s government was on Friday set to present a package of reforms aimed at stimulating growth. However, one government source told the news agency Reuters that the program would not allow for any relaxation of austerity.

“The plan will be a specific, comprehensive and credible set of structural reforms rather than spending cuts for the sake of spending cuts,” the source said.

Rajoy has said that savings are needed to fix public finances and boost the economy, saving Spain some 150 billion euros ($196 billion) by 2014.


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