Spanish police have clashed with protesters who marched against the latest batch of austerity measures. Over a million public employees, trade union members and fed-up citizens have taken to the streets in over 80 Spanish cities.
Violence erupted in Madrid around midnight. Police used rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the crowd as it tried to reach the congress building. In some more urban areas, activists set garbage containers on fire and tried to block police vehicle access. No injuries or arrests have been reported.
In Barcelona, similar scenes were reported. About a dozen protesters were arrested there, outside the local parliament building.
Demonstrators carried flags and banners decorated with scissors, symbolizing the country’s harsh spending cuts. The streets of Madrid were paralyzed by the boundless crowds of people.
The protests were organized by unions, who have been outraged by the government’s new measures – which include an elimination of Christmas bonuses for civil servants.
Earlier Thursday, Spanish Parliament approved a new package of spending cuts and tax hikes aiming to save $80 billion in a bid to take a bite out of the budget deficit. Since the measure was announced last week, Spain has witnessed a series of daily demonstrations, some of which have erupted into violence.
Europe’s fourth-largest economy also has the EU’s highest unemployment rate. About a quarter of working-age Spaniards are unable to find work.
Meanwhile, Germany’s lower house approved a $122 billion rescue package for Spanish banks in a bid to help the country cope with “excessive” market fears and prevent the eurozone’s debt crisis from spreading further.