Protesters Clash With Police Outside Spanish Parliament Ahead of Budget Announcement
The anti-austerity protest in Madrid, named "Occupy Congress", has descended into a something of a brawl. Some protesters tried to tear down barriers in front of parliament and were met with baton charges and rubber bullets. At the time of writing there have been thirty-two injuries and twenty-three arrests reported.
The protestors (or Indignants, as they are known) are demonstrating against what they call the "kidnapping of democracy." Much of the anger is directed against the bailout the Spanish government is currently considering. From the BBC:
Pablo Mendez, an activist from the 15M Indignants movement, told the Associated Press: "This is just a powerful signal that we are sending to politicians to let them know that the Spanish bailout is suicide and we don't agree with it, and we will try to prevent it happening."
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is under pressure to secure austerity reforms and negotiate a 2013 budget:
With this year's budget deficit target looking untenable, the conservative government is now looking at such things as cuts in inflation-linked pensions, taxes on stock transactions, "green taxes" on emissions or eliminating tax breaks.
The 2013 budget is the second one conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has had to pass since he took office in December. Spain must persuade its European partners that it can cut the budget shortfall by more than 60 billion euros by 2014.
Rajoy has already passed spending cuts and tax hikes worth slightly more than that over the next two years, but half-year figures show the 2012 deficit target slipping from view as tax income forecasts will not be hit due to economic contraction.
Elsewhere in Spain it was announced that Catalonia will hold its elections early. The president of the province, Artur Mas, has pledged to fight for independence. The dire fiscal situation of many of Spain's constituent provinces is an added concern for the central government, which is struggling with its own budget and reforms.