Two hundred thousand say police, two and a half million say the organisers. Whatever the figure Italians unhappy with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s education reforms made themselves heard in Rome on Saturday, in one of the biggest demonstrations seen in years in the country.
Opposition leader Walter Veltroni spoke to the crowd for an hour, saying Italy was a far better country than the government running it, “Things can change. Things will change. There is no resignation that can’t be replaced by hope. Another Italy is possible. We will do it together.”
Berlusconi returned to power in April, beating Veltroni and the left, and is still riding high in the opinion polls. He has threatened striking students and pupils with tough police action.
“This won’t change the government’s or the majority’s actions. This is a demonstration organised by the left, which shows its divisions. Its only aim is to oppose the government, all the government,” he said.
Another theme of the demonstration was to show support for the writer Roberto Saviano, whose shocking book and film “Gomorrah” on the Camorra organised crime network around Naples has earned a price on his head, and forced him into hiding.