Greek and Italian Police clash with protesters against austerity measures

Italy Financial Crisis

Students clash with police during a demonstration in Milan, Italy, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011. University students are protesting in Milan and Rome agai

Greece Financial Crisis

Riot police guard the U.S. Embassy during a protest in Athens, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011. Masked youths clashed with riot police outside Greece's parli

Greece Financial Crisis

Protesters are seen through smoke from a tear gas canister throw by riot police outside the Embassy of the United States, right, in Athens, on Thurs

Riot police in Athens fired tear gas on masked youths during a march by thousands of Greeks protesting against austerity measures demanded by the new government on Thursday.

Police estimated 27,000 people in Athens and 15,000 in the second city of Thessalonika joined demonstrations, one of the biggest in years.

Meanwhile, in Italy, thousands of people took to the streets in several cities to protest against what they called a “bankers’ government” led by Italy’s new Prime Minister economist Mario Monti.

Protesters in 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 technocrats government he has formed to tackle Italy’s debt crisis.

There were also protests in Turin, Rome, Palermo and Bari, with demonstrators targeting universities, bank branches and tax offices.

Monti’s Greek new counterpart, former European Central Bank deputy chief Lucas Papademos, is also under enormous pressure to bring down high debt.

As Papademos seeks to implement reforms demanded by EU and International Monetary Fund creditors in exchange for a euro 130-billion ($177-billion) bailout, angry Greeks threw stones and firebombs at police outside parliament.

Riot officers responded with tear gas. Some 78 people were detained for questioning, according to AP news agency. A young protester was reportedly hospitalized after injuring his legs when evading police.

Thursday’s annual protest in Greece commemorates a bloody student uprising in 1973. But the march has traditionally served as a vent for anti-government protests that often turn violent.

The fact that none of the new cabinets has been elected is likely to make it harder to win popular support for new taxes, job cuts or pension reforms that would hit hard on Greeks and Italians.