Students Protest Economic Woes in Italy as PM Unveils Crisis Plan

Posted November 17th, 2011 at 11:45 am (UTC-5)
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Thousands of students in Italy are protesting against the country's new government, led by Prime Minister Mario Monti, ahead of a confidence vote later Thursday.

Students clashed with police in Milan, Rome and other cities — protesting against government budget cuts and a lack of jobs.

Strikes by transportation workers also brought trains and buses to a stop in Rome.

The protests came hours before the new prime minister unveiled to the upper house of parliament a major austerity package aimed at steering the country out of its debt crisis. The austerity plan is expected to be followed by a confidence vote on the new government in both houses of parliament.

Mr. Monti, an economics professor and former European Union Commissioner, was sworn in Wednesday along with his new government. He said he will seek “sacrifices” from Italians to resolve the country's economic problems and get it moving forward again.

European Union leaders welcomed the news of Mr. Monti's appointment, saying it is an “encouraging sign,” but promised to keep monitoring the situation in Italy.

EU leaders have been pressuring Italy to cut public spending to avoid becoming the latest eurozone member to request a bailout. EU officials worry that the Italian economy is too big to be rescued, and they fear its demise would be a major blow to the euro.

Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi submitted his resignation Saturday.