UPDATE 1-Clashes at Italy protest against "bankers' government"

Thu Nov 17, 2011 7:47am EST

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MILAN Nov 17 (Reuters) - Thousands of Italians took to the streets in several cities on Thursday to protest against what they called a "bankers' government" led by economist Mario Monti, and there were clashes with police.

Students in Italy's financial capital Milan threw firecrackers at police trying to prevent them approaching the Bocconi university, which is chaired by Monti and has become a symbol for the new executive of technocrats he has formed to tackle Italy's debt crisis.

Police responded by charging the students with batons. One journalist was injured by a firecracker, police sources said.

The students also threw eggs and fake dollar banknotes at the building of the Italian banking association. "We don't want the banks to rule" and "Monti's government is not the solution", the students chanted.

Monti's government, sworn in on Wednesday, set out the measures it intends to take in the upper house of parliament on Thursday before seeking a confidence vote at 1930 GMT.

Monti said that Italy faced a serious emergency which could help decide the future of the European Union. He said the three pillars of the government's policy would be budgetary rigour, economic growth and social fairness.

UNIVERSITIES TARGETED

There were also protests in Turin, Rome, Palermo and Bari, with demonstrators targeting universities where some of Monti's ministers used to teach, bank branches and tax offices.

In Turin, clashes broke out between police and thousands of demonstrators including anarchists trying to approach the local headquarters of the Bank of Italy.

Police said several people had been injured, including a policeman. Some of the protesters chanted: "Smell of austerity" and "Monti will all make us beggars."

A collapse of market confidence has pushed Italy to the brink of financial disaster and driven up its borrowing costs to unsustainable levels.

Monti's cabinet is made up of a mix of academic specialists and experienced administrators and includes Corrado Passera, the chief executive of Italy's biggest retail bank, Intesa Sanpaolo, as industry minister.

The fact that none of the new cabinet has been elected is likely to make it harder to win popular support for new taxes, job cuts or pension reforms that could hit ordinary Italians hard.

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