Italy: the day of reckoning

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 232 April/May 2013

As we got to press, the political stalemate that followed the Italian general election of 24-25 February shows no sign of being resolved. Beppe Grillo and his MoVimento 5 Stelle have so far refused to come to any agreement with the other political parties and form a government. This both reflects and compounds the divisions within the Italian ruling class and adds to the general sense of crisis within the Eurozone.

At the election, the centre-left coalition was able to garner 340 seats in the lower house with 29.5% of the votes, the Democratic Party taking 25.4%. Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom Party still managed to lure an impressive 21.6% of the voters despite years of sex scandals, cronyism and hide-and-seek with the judicial system. Overall, the ‘Teflon’ media tycoon’s centre-right coalition got 29.2% of the votes or 124 seats. The discrepancy in seats between the two coalitions is the product of a 2005 electoral law which gives extra seats to the winners. Former Prime Minister Mario Monti’s coalition could only muster 10.5% of the vote. Together, the Democratic Party, the People of Freedom Party and the neo-fascist Northern League lost 10.5 million votes compared to the 2008 general election.

 

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Italy: Fightback begins

FRFI 230 December 2012/January 2013

On 14 November 2012, the European Confederation of Trade Unions called the first ever European day of action. Spurred by recent political and social events in Spain and in Greece, the European trade union movement, however reluctantly, coordinated actions throughout Europe with general strikes in Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal. According to the CGIL, Italy’s largest trade union federation, 50% of its members came out on strike; in some sectors including mining and metallurgy, two-thirds of the workers came out.

Thousands of people marched through the streets of the major Italian cities such as Turin, Milan, and Rome. In Milan, students clashed with the police in the vicinity of the EU local offices and manure was thrown in the entrance of the Italian subsidiary of Deutsche Bank. In Rome, major clashes took place between students and the police (who also had to deal with fascist elements among the students, the ‘Blocco Studentesco’) and 50 people were arrested; in Bologna, the offices of the CISL (an important trade-union that is refusing to fight the austerity measures) were occupied by demonstrators. In Padua three police officers were injured during fighting with protesters.

 

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Italy: The more things change, the more they stay the same

After nearly six months in power, the aura around Prime Minister Monti is fading and his fate is hanging by a thread. In fact, Monti’s ‘technocratic’ government is being criticised increasingly by both the right and the left and the direction in which the latest political developments are taking Italy is quite uncertain. DARIO CHIARADONNA reports.

After getting thrashed in local elections on 6 May, the right is looking fragile. Parties such as the Lega Nord (Northern League, a secessionist party allied to former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Casa della Libertà), which prided itself on being tough on crime and corruption, was lambasted in its strongholds amid a financial scandal that forced its leader Umberto Bossi to step down.

 

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Saving Italy for capitalism

The sudden collapse of the Berlusconi government and the formation of a ‘technocratic’ and supposedly apolitical leadership on 16 November 2011, led by ‘Super’ Mario Monti, is an ominous sign for the Italian working class. Monti is a former adviser to Goldman Sachs and currently European Chairman of the Trilateral Commission, a think tank created by David Rockefeller which includes such notorious members as Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski. Although Italy has never been known for its political stability, its sudden change of status to the ‘sick man’ of Europe is creating major problems for the eurozone.

 

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Italy: European capital claims another scalp

Silvio Berlusconi

The sudden collapse of the Berlusconi government on 12 November and the formation of a technocratic leadership are ominous signs of things to come, not only for the Italian working class but for the peoples of Europe.

Three times prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, the former cruise ship crooner and right-wing populist, had been under the shadow of charges and allegations for fraud, corruption and statutory rape, but it was the demands of European capital that finally brought him down. The European Central Bank demanded that the Italian government pass a €54 billion package of austerity measures to deal with Italy’s €1.9 trillion debt – 120% of GDP. As Italy’s costs of borrowing soared to an all-time high, the parliamentary budget vote on 11 November accepted the package; Berlusconi resigned the next day, paving the way for an unelected cabinet, led by former EU competion minister and Goldman Sachs adviser Mario Monti, to rule Europe’s third largest economy strictly in the interests of European capital.

 

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Ethnic cleansing in Italy

The fascist policies of the Italian government are finding fertile ground, as blame for everything from crime and social instability to unemployment is heaped on Italy’s immigrant population, who are bearing the brunt of the economic crisis.

Immigrants battle racists

At the beginning of January, hundreds of African immigrants were driven out of the town of Rosarno in southern Italy by its white citizens who were spurred on by the local Ndrangheta mafia and supported by the police.

 

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Italy: Immigrants fight back against racist attacks

On 18 September, in the southern Italian town of Castelvolturno, northwest of Naples, thousands of mainly African militants took to the streets after gangsters shot six men from Ghana, Liberia and Togo. The protesters tore up street signs and overturned cars and rubbish bins, accusing the police of racism for alleging the six victims had been drug traffickers. 500 soldiers were sent in to disperse the protest.

The same week, in the north of the country, protests erupted in Milan after a young black man from Burkino Faso was beaten to death by a shopkeeper and his son for stealing biscuits from their kiosk at Milan station. Protesters smashed motorcycles and overturned bins, chanting ‘Ignorant white bastards’.

 

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Racism and fascism stalk Italy

FRFI 206 December 2008 / January 2009

As economic crisis descends upon the imperialist economies of the US and Europe, bourgeois economists have turned to the financial crash of 1929 and the depression of the 1930s to explain the current chaos. What they fail to mention is the means by which the capitalist class in certain countries attempted to solve the worst economic and social crisis of the last century: fascism. Across Western Europe recent events provide a grim reminder of the depths to which the ruling elites of Europe, and Italy in particular, can sink. With one of the weakest economies in Europe, the country is set to plunge into possibly the continent’s worst depression. Italian capital, perhaps more than any other European economy, desperately needs to increase the exploitation of immigrant workers and the working class as a whole; in doing so, it faces renewed levels of class struggle.

The anti-immigrant and anti-Roma legislation and violence implemented and encouraged by Silvio Berlusconi’s coalition of xenophobes, ‘post-fascists’ and big business is increasingly being turned against the growing working class movement which has shaken Italy since October 2008. The crescendo of racist violence and terror, police brutality, anti-working class legislation and hysterical cries for the crushing of increasingly militant social movements is reminiscent of the fascist terror which the barons of finance capital unleashed across Europe 70 years ago.

 

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