9/8/11 (AEIN) The upper house of Italy's parliament passed austerity legislation on Wednesday as angry demonstrators expressed opposition to the move. If approved by the lower house, the bill would delay pension benefits for some workers and raise the value-added tax (sales tax) among other measures, according to the BBC World Service.
One hour before the vote took place, clashes broke out between protesters and police outside the parliament building. Protesters threw stones and attempted to break through a blockade set up by police, the AGI news agency reported. Police responded by charging toward the demonstrators and firing tear gas.
Italy is one of the most recent countries in western Europe to undergo major problems with government debt and the economy. Portugal, Spain, Greece, Ireland and Iceland face similar issues. Generally, such events lead to higher taxes, more unemployment and reduced government benefits, as well as strikes and demonstrations.