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Senates in Spain and Italy take key austerity steps

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Senates in Spain and Italy take key austerity steps


The Spanish and Italian Senates have approved key moves in the battle to deal with the eurozone debt crisis.

The upper house of parliament in Madrid voted overwhelmingly to cap future deficits, paving the way for the country to become only the second after Germany to approve a so-called “golden rule” of budget stability.

The lower chamber approved the hastily-introduced measure last week. It is now almost certain to come into force.

In Rome, senators passed the Italian government’s austerity plan by a majority of 25. The measures worth more than 54 billion euros are designed to balance the budget by 2013 and reduce Italy’s enormous debt. The plan will now go before the lower house, where Silvio Berlusconi’s government only has a small majority.

Outside the parliament, scuffles broke out amid demonstrations against the austerity programme. Police used tear gas and baton charges to disperse protesters who tried to break through barriers.

There were no reports of injuries. The protest came the day after a general strike against the measures organised by Italy’s largest union.

Spain also saw large demonstrations on Tuesday as thousands marched in Madrid and Barcelona demanding a referendum on the constitutional reform.

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