The first major protest against Italy’s new coalition government has taken place in Rome. Organised by the left-wing Fiom union, its message was that more needs to be done to create jobs.
New Prime Minister Enrico Letta, whose centre-left Democratic Party is in a fragile partnership with Berlusconi’s centre-right, stands accused of neglecting a promise to tackle unemployment, and focusing instead on plans to reform property taxes.
“This government needs to break away from what Monti and Berlusconi’s did and focus on new policies. I don’t know if they’ll be able to but that’s what the country needs and that’s why we are here,” said Fiom’s Secretary General, Maurizio Landini.
Italy is stuck in its longest recession for decades and youth unemployment stands at 38 percent.
Letta has set aside 1 billion euros to ensure continued unemployment benefits for workers placed in special temporary redundancy schemes.
Annamaria Parigi, an unemployed metalworker, said:
“The government is passing on the cost of its inaction to workers, pensioners, the unemployed and the desperate. Suicides among those who are out of work or have financial problems are increasing. Those in power now should ask themselves some questions.”
Less than a month after it took office, there is uncertainty over how the government intends to fund its plans, given that it has vowed to stick to its budget targets.
It has to balance its priorities with its pledge to keep Italy’s budget deficit within EU limits of three percent of gross domestic product (GDP).