Up to two million marched in Rome’s Circus Maximus Oct. 25 to protest the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi under the slogans “Save Italy” and “Another Italy is possible.” Walter Veltroni, leader of the center-left opposition, told the crowds that Berlusconi is incapable of handling Italy’s financial crisis—and said the country is moving in a fascist direction under his leadership.
Veltroni, leader of the Democratic Party (PD), cited Berlusconi’s anti-immigrant policies and slashing of social programs. Invoking Vittorio Foa, Italy’s wartime resistance leader who died Oct. 22, Veltroni declared, “Italy, Mr. Prime Minister, is an anti-fascist country.”
The march came against a background of growing unrest spearheaded by the daily protests of high school and university students opposed to the cost-cutting proposals for education. Speaking from Beijing on a visit to the People’s Republic, Berlusconi castigated the protesters: “At the very moment of crisis when we ought to be united, they take to the streets against the government. They show themselves for what they are.” (Irish Times, Oct. 27; BBC News, AFP, Tendenze Online, Rome, The Instablog, Rome, AGI, Italy, ASCA, Italy, Oct. 25; JTA, Oct. 22)