12 injured as police, protesters clash in Spain
Spanish police and anti-corruption protesters clashed in the Spanish city of Valencia Thursday, injuring 12 people and leading to five arrests, officials said.
Hundreds of demonstrators decrying political corruption, the economic crisis and soaring unemployment had gathered Wednesday night outside the regional parliament, which was to elect its president on Thursday after regional elections on May 22.
"Throw the corrupt out of our institutions," read one banner waved by protesters.
The re-elected president of the Valencia region, Francisco Camps, is under investigation for corruption in a scandal involving members of Spain's conservative opposition Popular Party.
Police said they moved in on Thursday morning to break up the protest after objects were thrown at the officers.
A spokeswoman for the regional government said eight police officers were injured and five demonstrators arrested.
Those detained were held for "public disorder, assaults on police and injuries" resulting from "throwing full bottles and even scissors" at officers, a police spokeswoman in Valencia said.
Police were also "kicked and punched," she said.
An emergency services spokeswoman said four demonstrators were also injured: a 55-year-old woman who was hospitalised for heads wounds and three others who were treated at the scene for bruises.
Protests over the economic crisis began in Madrid May 15 and fanned out to city squares nationwide as word spread by Twitter and Facebook among demonstrators known variously as "the indignant", "M-15", "Spanish Revolution" and "Real Democracy Now."
Hundreds also rallied in front of the Spanish parliament in Madrid Wednesday night to condemn plans by the government to reform the collective bargaining system.
Unions and employers have been negotiating for months over reform of the collective bargaining system, considered a crucial plank of labour, banking and pension reforms aimed at reviving Spain's battered economy.
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said last week that his government will approve the reform by June 10 even if there is no deal with unions by then.
The Spanish economy slumped into recession during the second half of 2008 as the global financial meltdown compounded the collapse of the once-booming property market. It emerged with meagre growth in early 2010.
The crisis sent the unemployment rate soaring to 21.29 percent in the first quarter of 2011, the highest in the industrialised world.
© 2011 AFP