Manu Fernandez / AP
Demonstrators protest against austerity measures announced by the Spanish government in Barcelona, Spain on July 19, 2012.
MADRID -- Hundreds of thousands of Spaniards marched on Thursday evening against the center-right government's latest austerity measures, passed after more than a week of demonstrations across the country.
Parliament on Thursday approved a package of 65 billion euros ($80 billion) of spending cuts and tax hikes as part of measures to avert a full European bail-out, bringing more hardship in a severe economic downturn in a nation where one in four are jobless.
Demonstrators took to the streets in towns and cities across Spain, thronging the thoroughfares of Madrid and Barcelona, waving flags and bearing banners decorated with scissors to symbolize spending cuts.
In Madrid, crowds of firefighters wearing helmets and t-shirts with the slogan "Firemen in danger of extinction" blew horns and let off firecrackers. Earlier, police officers and members of the Civil Guard joined the protests.
"We have lived through bad times, but this takes the biscuit," said 58-year-old fireman Francisco Vaquero.
Earlier Thursday, angry civil servants had blocked traffic in several main Madrid avenues, The Guardian newspaper of London reported. Protesters punctured tires on dozens of riot police vans.
The sight of demonstrators on Spain's streets is nothing new. Young "Indignados" (Indignants) protested in their thousands against unemployment last year. One in four Spaniards is without work.
But since Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced spending cuts and tax rises last week there have been daily demonstrations drawing protests from public service workers like police that have previously stayed away.
Civil servants, whose pay was cut by up to 7 percent when their Christmas bonus was canceled, have used their coffee breaks this week to protest outside the ruling People's Party headquarters in Madrid.
This article includes reporting by Reuters and The Associated Press.
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