Australia and Italy hit by Anti-Austerity protests

Anti-austerity protests hit Italy, Austria

Thu, 19 Dec 2013 01:01:24 GMT

Tens of thousands of people have demonstrated in Italy and Austria to protest against their governments’ economic policies.

Thousands of Italian students, unemployed people and tax-weary workers demonstrated in central Rome on Wednesday to show their discontent with “useless politicians.”

The demonstrators also demanded the resignation of Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s government.

The protesters said politicians must be held accountable for impoverishing Italy and bringing the country to its current troubled economic situation.

“The ruling class is made up of thieves and mafiosi, and they are destroying our country! We are better than this . . . Out, out, out!” shouted Danilo Calvani, a farmer who has emerged as one of the protest leaders.

“We do not want to be ruled by this government anymore,” said protester Valerio Lorusso, a farmer from Foggia in southern Italy, noting that “They don’t represent us, they don’t listen to us, they only steal and that’s it. We want new elections.”

The wave of “pitchfork” protests, which began among a loosely organized group of farmers in Sicily, is now a nationwide expression of citizens’ impatience over rising unemployment, stubborn recession and unproductive lawmakers. Italy is suffering its longest recession since the World War II.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of civil servants gathered in front of the Hofburg Palace in the Austrian capital, Vienna, to demand better pay and an end to a hiring freeze.

The new centrist government had initially promised better living conditions, but then took a hard line, focusing on balancing the country’s budget.

Earlier this week, Austria closed its science ministry, with the aim of saving money. The move has met with a storm of protest among academics and students.

“The government in general is totally focused on saving money,” said Eveline Ostermann, a leader of the financial civil servants’ union.

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