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Police Turn Spanish Parliament into 'Fortress' as Numbers Swell at 'Occupy Congress' Protest

- Common Dreams staff

Protestors gather close to Spain's Parliament ahead of a demonstration in Madrid September 25, 2012. (AFP Photo / Dominique Faget)Police in Spain blocked off access to the Spanish Parliament Tuesday in anticipation of "Occupy Congress," a mass protest expecting to draw thousands to the streets over drastic austerity cuts in the nation. The building "took on the appearance of a heavily guarded fortress," according to the Associated Press, ahead of the protest expected to start around 1730 GMT.

As protesters began gathering around the Parliament, Madrid's regional Interior Ministry delegation said up to 1,300 police would be deployed. Protest leaders said they have no plans to enter the building -- only to march around it.

Protest numbers continue to swell around parliament, but no confrontations with police have been reported. Protest leaders said the action will be peaceful. A livestream of the event can be viewed here.

Demonstrators are calling for entirely new elections in the country, saying the ruling Popular Party misled voters to get elected last November. The current government has continued to make extreme cuts to the public budget in a bid to win further bank and finance bailout loans from its European partners.

Austerity measures in the country have included public sector pay cuts, privatization of public assets, tax increases, and a raise in retirement age by two years.

Spain is in the middle of its second recession in two years and faces a 25 percent unemployment rate.

The government, headed by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, is expected to unveil a new batch of cuts on Thursday when it presents a draft budget for 2013.

Panoramic (snapshot from livestream) showing swelling numbers at protest outside Spanish Parliament (Photo via Twitter / spyros gkelis ‏@northaura)

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