Fresh protests in Spain after clashes with police
Several hundred demonstrators gathered near the Spanish parliament late Thursday to protest what they said was police violence at a demonstration in the eastern city of Valencia.
Protesters headed towards parliament shortly before midnight after a three-hour rally at the Puerta del Sol in central Madrid, a rallying point for the protest movement against the political response to the economic crisis.
Young protesters shouted slogans denouncing police violence and expressing solidarity with demonstrators in Valencia.
Police sealed off the street leading to parliament, deploying a line of police officers and several vans of reinforcements, an AFP journalist said.
Earlier Thursday, clashes between police and anti-corruption protesters in Valencia left 12 people injured and led to five arrests, officials said.
Hundreds of demonstrators had gathered there Wednesday night outside the regional parliament, which was to elect its president on Thursday after regional elections on May 22.
They denounced the economic crisis, soaring unemployment and alleged political corruption.
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 in Valencia said they moved in on Thursday morning to break up the protest after objects were thrown at the officers, including "full bottles and even scissors".
A spokeswoman for the regional government said eight police officers were injured and five demonstrators arrested for "public disorder, assaults on police and injuries".
Police were also "kicked and punched," a police spokeswoman in Valencia said.
An emergency services spokeswoman said four demonstrators were wounded: a 55-year-old woman hospitalised for head wounds and three others 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 Socialist 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 would approve the reform by June 10 even if there was no deal with unions.
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