Tens of thousands protest against austerity in Rome

ROME Sat Oct 27, 2012 2:50pm EDT

1 of 7. A range of protesters from communists to academics mount a 'No Monti Day' demonstration against government austerity policies in downtown Rome October 27, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi

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ROME (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of people marched through Rome in a "No Monti Day" on Saturday, some throwing eggs and spraying graffiti to protest against austerity measures introduced by Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti's government.

Appointed in November when Italy risked being sucked into the euro zone debt crisis, Monti has pushed through painful tax hikes, spending cuts and a pension overhaul.

"We are here against Monti and his politics, the same politics as all over Europe, that brought Greece to its knees and that is destroying half of Europe, public schools, health care," said demonstrator Giorgio Cremaschi.

Some protesters threw eggs at bank windows and set off firecrackers, but no major incidents were reported.

"United with a Europe that is rebelling. Let's get rid of the Monti government," read one of the banners held at the demonstration.

Unemployment in Italy has risen to 10.7 percent, its highest since monthly records began in 2004, and unions are locked in disputes with companies over plant closures and layoffs. The nation's public debt is running at 126 percent of output, according to the International Monetary Fund.

"It's been years that there have been no investments, instead it's all outsourced and privatized, we are here to say enough and we hope this voice will grow," said another demonstrator, Caterina Fida.

Organizers said more than 100,000 people participated in the demonstration.

Monti says he believes his technocratic government will be remembered for having helped Italy pull itself out of a deep economic crisis without needing to resort to external aid.

Separately, some 20,000 doctors and nurses, wearing their white hospital gowns or uniforms, marked in another section of Rome to protest cuts to the national health service.

"The entire system risks collapse if the cuts continue," one demonstrator said on television.

In another demonstration in northern Italy, a small group of protesters scuffled with police near where Monti was addressing a rally on the theme of family values.

(additional reporting By James Mackenzie, editing by Rosalind Russell and Jason Webb)

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