Protesters Rally at Spain’s Parliament

Posted June 22nd, 2011 at 8:50 pm (UTC-5)
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Anti-government activists who call themselves “the indignant,” demonstrated near the Spanish parliament Wednesday to protest planned economic reforms.

The French news agency reports demonstrators camped out in central Madrid as police blocked the entrance to the main square outside the central assembly.

Icelandic singer Hordur Torfason, a key organizer of protests that toppled his country's government in 2008 after the collapse of major Icelandic banks, visited the Spanish activists to show support.

Spanish lawmakers Wednesday discussed a labor reform, which was approved by the Cabinet of Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapateros June 10.

The International Monetary Fund and Spain's central bank Tuesday urged tough measures to make the economy more competitive.

Businesses have criticized the reform, saying it does not go far enough, while the unions argue that the new measures will harm workers.

Spain has an unemployment rate of 21 percent, the highest in the 17-nation euro zone.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has tried to ease the country's large debt burden by cutting government spending, raising the retirement age, and making it easier for companies to fire workers.

Many protesters blame the economic crisis on banks and inept politicians.

Spaniards angered about the economic situation and high unemployment have been staging regular protests in Madrid since May 15. The so-called movement of the indignant later spread to other parts of the country.