Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta promised on Monday to cut bureaucracy, overhaul the tax system and labour market, as well as introduce a series of changes to Italy’s stringent immigration laws in a new coalition pact to be worked out in January.
The 47-year-old premier is confident that his new generation of younger leaders will pull Italy from two decades in the doldrums.
“Political tensions are at the top level,” said Letta on Monday,“but I am sure 2014 will be the year of institutional reform, a comprehensive and complete reform. In the press conference for the end of 2014, I will talk about different and better economic data and the institutional reforms will be done,” he vowed at an end-of-year press conference.
Not everybody shares his optimism, though. With widespread social handouts for the poor, a youth unemployment rate of more than 40 percent and many who do have jobs condemned to temporary contracts with no security, the road to reform may be an uphill struggle for Letta.
Many Italians are up in arms over steep unemployment, austerity measures and high fuel prices. Protesters have recently blocked roads, disrupted trains and clashed with police. Even the pope has expressed his support for the so-called pitchfork protesters but urged them to reject the “temptation of violence”.
The “Pitchfork Movement” was initially inspired by a group of Sicilian farmers but has grown into a wider wave of unrest expressing frustration with the government’s failure to turn around the economy.