Public unrest in Italy, fueled by the new budget rolled out by the shaky ruling coalition, has united unemployed youth and the captains of industry in opposition, James Walston, an Italian politics expert from the American University of Rome, told RT.
Violent clashes broke out between police and demonstrators in Rome on Saturday as up to 70,000 took to the streets to protest Italy’s new budget.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Enrico Letta – who leads the unstable Left-Right coalition – presented the 2014 budget, which immediately came under fire from both sides of the coalition.
The left criticized the budget for freezing state sector pay and pensions, while the right and big-business said it failed to stimulate growth with insufficient cuts to Italy’s oppressive corporate taxes.
Walston says that attempts to balance Italy’s books are rooted firmly in a eurozone system which many argue is being steered by Berlin.
RT: It was a turbulent night in Rome. Can we expect to see even more unrest?
James Walston: We are seeing more this morning. This morning the protesters have camped outside one of the gates of Rome – ironically, where the Italians came to conquer Rome from the Popes in 1870. And today, of course, it’s a major traffic hub and on a Sunday it doesn’t matter too much, but the traffic around the center of the city is blocked, because they are protesting and camping there, and say they want to mobilize the city. So this is going on, and will probably go on in different ways for a long time now.
RT: So is the government going to review this unpopular budget that actually triggered such public discontent?
JW: Well, the budget was published on the 15th, – a few days ago – and it will be passed (as) this was the proposal from the government. It has to be passed by the end of the year; it’s going to be modified anyway. And the government has not yet said how it’s going to modify the budget. But so many people – from the employers to the trade unions to different political parties – and now very strong protests from young people of various sorts who said ‘We do not like the government, we don’t like the budget. We want a recovery budget, we want a growth budget.’ This is what they’re complaining about. They’re complaining about the same thing as the employers. It’s an unusual situation, but that’s what we have.