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Austerity in Europe: Italy
by Emanuelle Degli Esposti
In the second of our series on austerity in Europe, Emanuelle Degli Esposti explores - in her own words - the little known protests in Bologna, Northern Italy.
Italians are not exactly known for their revolutionary spirit, or their sense of political integrity – but since Los Indignados started rallying in Spain, the youth of Italy, too, have taken to the streets calling for their rights.
“We are people who have come freely and spontaneously, and who have decided to unite in order to reclaim our political and social dignity and consciousness”
That's the statement on the Facebook page of the Milan-based protests. Similar movements are springing up in cities across the country.
In Bologna – the student town that has long been the ideological heartland of the Italian left – a group of fifty or so individuals set up camp in the central square on 20 May, and have been there intermittently ever since.
The peaceful occupation of Piazza del Nettuno, is anything but an insignificant faction.
The youthful protesters organise daily meetings about crucial issues – education, welfare provisions, immigration, water privatisation etc. They then publish the results of these meetings through social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Berlusconi - hate figure for the left
Alongside the more general claims for economic and social opportunities, the Italian demonstrators are unified in a single call: to see the back of Silvio Berlusconi.
The beleaguered Italian prime minister has long been a hate figure for the radical left in the country. The way they see it, he is the personification of the corruption, licentiousness and unruliness of Italian politics.
And they say his monopoly of the public consciousness must come to an end if any progress is to be made in the country.
Now even those previously taken in by the premier’s snake-eyed charm are turning against him: his announcement on 8 July that he will not be running in the 2013 elections was a welcome reaction to the growing tide against him, but must also be taken with a certain amount of caution.
For those camped out in piazzas and streets across the country, the future holds a glimmer of hope.
"People are tired of being on the periphery of their own lives," says Antonio, one of the organisers of the ‘Italian Revolution Bologna’. "Citizens want to feel that they are protagonists on the political stage."
Europe's secret revolution?
Not as well-known or as wide-spread as the Indignados movement in Spain, the Italian Revolution is nevertheless playing a crucial role in changing the face of Italian politics.
“Really?” ask the protesters, “Have you not realised how many of us there are yet?”
The youth of Italy are rising up to claim their future as their own.
They are channeling their anger and frustration against the current system towards putting that system right. One of the rallying cries of this movement is:
“Io sono indignato e tu chi sei?”, “I am indignant, and who are you?
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