Italy’s Berlusconi government racked by scandals and growing tensions

By Marianne Arens, 30 July 2010

The current corruption scandals in Italy far exceed those involved in the so-called Tangentopoli swamp of 1991, and a succession of ministers and state secretaries has already resigned.

Demonstration in Rome protests austerity measures

By our correspondents, 17 June 2010

Thousands protested last Saturday in Rome against the recent austerity plans announced by the Italian government.

Italy on the eve of new class battles

By Marianne Arens, 7 June 2010

The right-wing government of Silvio Berlusconi has agreed to an austerity programme, which will be presented to the EU on June 7 in Brussels, preparing almost €25 billion in cuts by 2012.

Franco-Italian summit makes strategic deals, calls for bailout of Greece

By Alex Lantier, 12 April 2010

France and Italy signed strategic energy and military deals at the April 9 summit, amid rising uncertainty about financial stability and strategic rivalries in Europe.

“Left Alliance” defeated in Italian regional elections

By Ulrich Rippert, 1 April 2010

Italian regional elections held on Sunday and Monday resulted in unexpected gains for the centre-right alliance led by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Mass protest by immigrants against Italian government’s racist policies

By Marianne Arens, 4 March 2010

Several tens of thousands of immigrants in 60 Italian cities engaged in strikes and demonstrations March 1 to protest against the racist policies of the Berlusconi government, and for equal rights for all.

Italian police incarcerate 1,300 migrant workers after Calabria protest

By Marianne Arens and Stefan Steinberg, 12 January 2010

Italian police responded to a protest of African workers in Calabria with the arrest of 1,300 immigrants and their transfer to detention centers

Italian court convicts US agents in CIA rendition case

By Stefan Steinberg, 6 November 2009

In a landmark decision with global political repercussions, an Italian court has convicted in absentia 23 US agents for their role in the 2003 CIA kidnapping and "rendition" of an Italian citizen, Abu Omar.

Power struggle in Italy around Berlusconi

By Marianne Arens, 19 October 2009

A power struggle has developed within the Italian bourgeoisie in the past few weeks and calls for Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s resignation are becoming increasingly louder.

Prosecuted for saving the lives of refugees

The case of Cap Anamur president Elias Bierdel and his crew

By Stefan Steinberg, 9 October 2009

The scandalous treatment of Bierdel and his crew is a direct result of the criminal immigration policy adopted by the EU aimed at turning Europe into a fortress.

Italy: Xenophobic immigration policy leads to hundreds of deaths in the Mediterranean

By Marianne Arens, 27 August 2009

The Italian government of Silvio Berlusconi has led a contemptible months-long campaign against African refugees and is quite prepared to accept the deadly consequences of its policy.

New Italian security law legalises vigilante patrols

By Marianne Arens, 8 July 2009

Only days before the G8 summit opens, a new security law directed primarily against illegal immigrants comes into force in Italy.

Italy: Train explosion leads to angry outbursts against Berlusconi

By Marianne Arens, 7 July 2009

Negligence and inadequate safety precautions are alleged to be factors in the recent train tragedy in Italy.

Italy: Fiat workers protest against management and their union leadership

By Marianne Arens, 21 May 2009

Fiat workers from all over Italy demonstrated last Saturday at the Fiat company headquarters in Lingotto. At the head of the march were the workforces of two Fiat factories facing closure.

Earthquake in Abruzzo exposes corruption in Italian building industry

By Marianne Arens, 14 April 2009

Following last week’s earthquake in Abruzzo, grief and shock have given way to growing anger as it has become clear that much of the destruction could have been avoided.

Warnings suppressed

Over two hundred victims in Italian earthquake

By Stefan Steinberg, 8 April 2009

The death toll from a powerful earthquake in central Italy has risen above 200, amid revelations of suppressed warnings and lax building standards.

Italy: Berlusconi sets up a new right-wing party

By Marianne Arens, 8 April 2009

The new People of Freedom Party, with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as “Il presidente,” is rooted in deeply anti-democratic tendencies.

Italy: Berlusconi decree legalises anti-immigrant vigilantes

By Marianne Arens, 27 February 2009

The Italian government has passed a decree permitting vigilante squads to patrol Italian cities, legalising the activities of the groups of racist and fascist thugs who have intensified their attacks on immigrants in recent weeks and months.

Italy: The case of Eluana Englaro

The exploitation of a personal tragedy and its political implications

By Marc Wells, 19 February 2009

In 1992, 20-year-old Eluana Englaro was involved in a serious car accident that left her in a permanent vegetative state. A lengthy legal struggle led by the woman’s father resulted in a decision by the Milan Court of Appeal in July 2008 sanctioning the withdrawal of the feeding tube.

Growing opposition to Italian government’s xenophobic campaign

By Marianne Arens, 29 January 2009

Residents of the island of Lampedusa are opposing the chauvinist campaign of the Italian Berlusconi government to scapegoat refugees.

Italy: Judgement in G8 police raid trial

By Marianne Arens, 24 November 2008

The second trial dealing with the outbreaks of severe police violence at the G8 summit of 2001 has ended, once again with acquittals and mild judgements for those involved.

Italy: Student protests continue against cuts in education

By our reporter, 21 November 2008

Students in Italy continued their protest against government cuts in higher education, with up to 500,000 demonstrating in Rome on November 14.

Italy: Student protests escalate

By Robert Stevens, 12 November 2008

Students, teachers and lecturers in Italy are continuing to protest the attacks on the right to education and 130,000 sackings being proposed by the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Italy: Protests and strikes against Berlusconi education cuts

By Peter Schwarz, 31 October 2008

Thousands participated in protests across Italy on Thursday against cuts in education initiated by the Berlusconi government.

Mass strike in Italy against Berlusconi government

By Harvey Thompson, 24 October 2008

A general strike in Italy last Friday protested low wages and attacks on the working population by the Berlusconi government.

Italy: Berlusconi government seeks to rehabilitate fascism

By Marianne Arens, 16 September 2008

Within months of returning to power, the right-wing Italian government is becoming increasingly explicit in its political pronouncements. Prominent members of the ruling coalition led by Silvio Berlusconi have recently launched a concerted campaign for the rehabilitation of fascism.

Italy’s phoney “Robin Hood” tax

By Marianne Arens, 19 August 2008

Although it is all but impossible to live in Europe on a monthly income of 500 euros, currently 13 percent of the Italian population—7.5 million people—are forced to survive on this sum. In Italian cities, poverty amongst pensioners is growing rapidly and, according to the child welfare organization UNICEF, the level of child poverty in Italy is the highest in Europe.

Italian government imposes national state of emergency

By Marianne Arens, 6 August 2008

On July 25, the Italian government headed by Silvio Berlusconi proclaimed a national state of emergency due to the continuing inflow of refugees by boat from across the Mediterranean Sea. This means that the state of emergency already imposed on Italy’s three southernmost provinces—Sicily, Apulia and Calabria—will be expanded to encompass the entire country.

State violence at 2001 G8 summit in Genoa goes unpunished

By Marianne Arens, 25 July 2008

Last week the judgement was handed down in Genoa in the Bolzaneto trial. The trial is one of four examining the orgy of brutality employed by Italian security forces during the G8 summit held in Genoa in 2001. The Bolzaneto judgement amounts to a virtual acquittal for the state, although the trial made clear that the Italian police had viciously abused and tortured G8 protesters seven years ago.

Italian court to allow claims by Nazi victims

By Elisabeth Zimmermann, 17 July 2008

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Italy: Berlusconi government steps up its attacks on Roma and foreigners

By Marianne Arens, 5 July 2008

Silvio Berlusconi has now governed Italy for two months. The multi-billionaire media magnate enjoys a clear parliamentary majority following the humiliating election defeat of all those organisations which emerged from the former Italian Communist Party—in particular Communist Refoundation (Rifondazione Comunista).

Berlusconi government incites racist pogroms

By Stefan Steinberg, 23 May 2008

On Wednesday, May 21, at an extraordinary sitting in the city of Naples the recently nominated cabinet of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi passed harsh new laws directed against immigrants. The new decrees follow several weeks of state organised raids and violence directed against Italy’s immigrant community.

Italy: Berlusconi’s new government promotes xenophobia

By Marianne Arens, 16 May 2008

Nicolo Tommasoli was buried in the city of Verona last Saturday. The 29-year-old had been beaten to death on May 1 by neo-Nazis. A silent crowd of over 300 mourners escorted his coffin to the grave. In accordance with the wishes of his parents and fiancée, politicians and the press were excluded from Tommasoli’s funeral service.

Former fascist elected mayor of Rome

By Marianne Arens, 3 May 2008

Two weeks after the victory of Silvio Berlusconi in the Italian parliamentary elections, the city of Rome, which for decades has been governed by centre-left parties, has fallen into the hands of the right wing. On April 28, Gianni Alemanno, a long-time member of the fascist movement with close links to prominent right-wing extremists, was elected mayor of the Italian capital.

The collapse of Rifondazione Comunista in Italy

The price of opportunism

By Peter Schwarz, 25 April 2008

The debacle of the Rainbow Left in the recent Italian parliamentary elections will go down in political textbooks as a prime example of the price of opportunism. The Rainbow electoral alliance consisting of four separate parties lost three quarters of its electoral support within the space of just two years.

Collapse of “left” parties enables Berlusconi to win Italian election

By Peter Schwarz, 16 April 2008

Just two years after being voted out of office, the media magnate Silvio Berlusconi will become head of the Italian government for a third time. His right-wing alliance “People of Freedom” (PdL—Popolo della Libertà) obtained a clear majority in both chambers of parliament in the elections held on Sunday and Monday.

Italian elections: polls favour Berlusconi comeback

By Peter Schwarz, 12 April 2008

According to the latest opinion polls, Silvio Berlusconi is likely to be elected as Italy’s prime minister for the third time in parliamentary elections set for this Sunday and Monday. The two chambers of parliament were dissolved after the centre-left government led by Romano Prodi lost its majority after only 20 months in office.

Italy: parties shift to the right as election campaign begins

By Marianne Arens and Peter Schwarz, 17 March 2008

One month before Italy goes to the polls on April 13 and 14, the election campaign is in full swing. Despite the usual demagogy, it is evident that all of the established political parties have moved closer together and shifted further to the right. There is literally nobody who articulates the concerns and needs of working people, let alone provides a serious answer to them.

Elections called in Italy

By Peter Schwarz, 12 February 2008

President Giorgio Napolitano dissolved the two chambers of the Italian legislature, the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, February 6 after efforts to form an interim government had failed. New elections have been set for April 13 and 14.

Government crisis in Italy

Romano Prodi resigns

By Marianne Arens, 28 January 2008

On January 24, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi resigned following a vote of no confidence against his government in the Senate. This means an end to his centre-left government, which included in its ranks parties ranging from the Christian Democrats to the Communist Refoundation (Rifondazione Comunista).

Italian judge seeks trial of 140 over Operation Condor repression

By Bill Van Auken, 15 January 2008

An Italian judge has issued orders for the preventive arrest pending deportation of at least 140 former officials of military dictatorships that ruled seven Latin American countries between the 1960s and 1980s. They are charged with responsibility for the deaths of 25 Italian citizens, who were among the tens of thousands of opponents of these regimes murdered, tortured and illegally imprisoned under a US-backed campaign of repression known as Operation Condor.

Prodi government’s budget attacks the Italian working class

By Marc Wells, 10 October 2007

The 2008 budget approved by the Prodi government at the end of September is a massive and cynical attack against the living standards of millions of Italian workers who are progressively losing decades of social gains while a small corporate oligarchy is accumulating extraordinary profits.

Italian government pushes through pension “reform”

Prodi completes what Berlusconi began

By Marianne Arens, 13 August 2007

After overnight negotiations, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi won the agreement on July 20, of Italy’s biggest trade unions for his latest so-called pension “reform.” The Prodi reform is an important step toward abolishing the relatively generous Italian system of pensions first introduced in the 1960s.

Italy: Trial of CIA agents deferred until October

By Marianne Arens, 30 June 2007

On June 18, a Milan court decided to defer to October the trial of those charged with abducting the Egyptian expatriate Imam Osama Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar. Judge Oscar Magi agreed to the motion of the defence lawyer representing the main Italian defendant, the former chief of Italian Military Intelligence (SISMI), Nicolò Pollari.

Italy’s former Communist Party shifts further to the right

By Marianne Arens and Peter Schwarz, 12 May 2007

The long march of Italy’s Communist Party to the right is unending.

Italy: Hostile reception in Rome for a leader of Communist Refoundation

By Marianne Arens, 12 April 2007

Four years ago, Fausto Bertinotti was a celebrated speaker on demonstrations opposing the Iraq war. Today, wherever he appears, he is regularly the butt of jeers and booing by opponents of the war. This was the case on March 26 at the University of Rome, when the speaker of the chamber of deputies and former head of Communist Refoundation (RC—Rifondazione Comunista) spoke at the humanities faculty of La Sapienza on the topic “Favelas and poverty in the third world.”

Rome: Thousands demonstrate against US war policy and the Prodi government

Rifondazione Comunista boycotts protest

By a WSWS reporting team, 20 March 2007

An estimated 30,000 people marched through the centre of Rome March 17 to protest against the Iraq war and the policies of Italy’s government. On the fourth anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, demonstrations also took place in Madrid, Prague, Copenhagen, Athens, Istanbul and other European cities.

Italian Pabloites back Prime Minister Prodi in Senate confidence vote

By Peter Schwarz, 2 March 2007

Romano Prodi will continue to lead the Italian government. On Wednesday he won a confidence vote by 162 to 157 in the Senate, where his nine-party coalition has a razor-thin majority. A total of 160 votes was necessary for victory.

Italy: Communist Refoundation gives Prodi a blank check for right-wing policies

By Dietmar Henning and Marianne Arens, 26 February 2007

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi is preparing to resume his duties as head of government following his sudden resignation last week. On Saturday, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano rejected Prodi’s resignation and asked him to organise votes of confidence this week in both chambers of parliament. Should he obtain a majority, he is to continue to govern as head of his center-left coalition.

Italian prime minister resigns after losing foreign policy vote

By Stefan Steinberg and Barry Grey, 23 February 2007

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi tendered his resignation Wednesday night after losing a Senate vote on his center-left coalition government’s foreign policy. The collapse of the nine-month-old Unione government came amidst growing popular opposition to its right-wing policies, both domestic and foreign.

Italy: 100,000 demonstrate against expansion of US base in Vicenza

By Marianne Arens, 22 February 2007

On February 17, some 100,000 protesters marched in the north Italian city of Vicenza against the planned expansion of the US Ederle military base. The six-kilometre-long march was also directed against the US war in Iraq and the foreign policy of the centre-left Italian government of Prime Minister Romano Prodi.

Italian judge indicts CIA agents for illegal kidnapping

By Richard Tyler, 19 February 2007

The US policy of “extraordinary renditions”—the illegal kidnap and transportation of supposed terror suspects to secret detention sites where they are then tortured—was the subject of both an Italian legal investigation and a critical report by the European Parliament last week.

Italian court considers trial against CIA agents in rendition case

By Marianne Arens, 29 January 2007

Four years ago, Muslim cleric Abu Omar was kidnapped in Italy by US intelligence agents and transferred to an Egyptian torture prison. A hearing is currently taking place in Milan over the possible trial of those responsible for Abu Omar’s rendition. Public prosecutor Armando Spataro is seeking to bring charges against the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Italian military secret service SISMI (Servizio per le Informazioni e la Sicurezza Militare).

Italian right wing mobilizes against Prodi government

By Marianne Arens, 12 December 2006

Eight months after losing the April parliamentary elections the Italian right are continuing to contest their defeat.

Italian government implicated in cover-up of US “rendition”

By Marianne Arens and Peter Schwarz, 10 November 2006

The Muslim cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, better known as Abu Omar, was kidnapped in Milan in February 2003 in broad daylight and rendered by the CIA to Egypt, where he was tortured and where he remains imprisoned.

From anti-war to a party of war

Rifondazione Comunista mobilizes for Italy’s military intervention in Lebanon

By Marianne Arens, 28 October 2006

Rifondazione Comunista, the Italian “Party of Communist Refoundation,” is exerting all of its influence to facilitate an Italian military intervention in Lebanon. The national secretariat of the party, which has been part of the centre-left government led by Romano Prodi since April 2006, has welcomed the Italian mission in Lebanon. On October 17, party deputies voted in the Senate in favour of the bill to dispatch Italian troops.

Italy: Prodi government submits austerity budget

By Marianne Arens, 7 October 2006

On September 30, the Italian centre-left government led by Romano Prodi submitted its budget for 2007, which envisages total savings for the coming year of 33.4 billion euros. The aim of the budget is to cut Italy’s soaring deficit and come into line with criteria laid down in the European Union stability package, which sets the upper limit for budget deficits at 3 percent of gross domestic product.

Italy prepares to send troops to Lebanon

By Marianne Arens, 16 August 2006

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi and his foreign minister, Massimo D’Alema, announced at the weekend that Italy was prepared to send several thousand soldiers as well as ships, helicopters and armoured vehicles to participate in the planned international force in south Lebanon. Participation in this UN mission with its “robust” mandate would constitute the biggest foreign intervention by Italian troops since the Second World War.

Italy’s National Memorial Day of the Exiles and Foibe: the significance of a neo-fascist commemoration

By Marc Wells, 9 March 2006

A “foiba” (plural “foibe”) is a natural sinkhole in the shape of an inverted funnel, up to 200 meters deep, formed by water erosion. These formations are typical of the Kras region, an area east of Venice divided between Italy, Croatia and Slovenia.

Italian election campaign begins with anti-Berlusconi opposition backing austerity candidate

By Peter Schwarz, 23 February 2006

President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi officially launched Italy’s national election campaign when he dissolved parliament earlier this month. On April 9 and 10, voters will elect a new parliament and determine the country’s new government.

Italy’s constitutional “reform”: the gravedigger of post-war democracy

By Marianne Arens and Marc Wells, 2 December 2005

Silvio Berlusconi’s Constitutional reform, passed by the Italian Senate on November 16, is designed to give the prime minister presidential powers. Only a few weeks before that, Berlusconi, Italy’s richest entrepreneur, had arbitrarily changed the electoral law in order to secure himself an advantage in the upcoming election (See “Italy: Berlusconi changes electoral law to remain in power”).

Italy: Berlusconi changes electoral law to remain in power

By Marianne Arens and Peter Schwarz, 4 November 2005

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is notorious for the fact that he flouts elementary democratic principles and unscrupulously uses his power to defend his own personal interests.

Why did the CIA abduct an Egyptian cleric from the streets of Milan?

By Peter Symonds, 5 July 2005

An article in last Sunday’s edition of the Chicago Tribune has raised new questions about the CIA kidnapping of Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, on the streets of Milan on February 17, 2003. Nasr was shipped back to Egypt, where he was held without charge and tortured. His case hit the headlines after an Italian magistrate issued arrest warrants for 13 CIA agents, provoking sharp tensions between Washington and Rome and a new crisis for Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Italy: a week-long government crisis in Rome

By Peter Schwarz, 29 April 2005

Things must change if we want them to stay as they are, affirms the young Tancredi in Tomasi di Lampedusa’s novel Il Gattopardo (The Leopard). These words came to mind last week as a drama played out in the political theatre of Rome. The players had to make do with the small stage, since the main one was running another piece in the glare of the world’s media—the selection of the new Pope.

Berlusconi suffers major defeat in Italian regional elections

By Peter Schwarz, 9 April 2005

It was anticipated that Italy’s ruling right-wing coalition would suffer losses in the Italian regional elections held last weekend (April 3-4), but the result far exceeded expectations. Most commentaries spoke of a “landslide” and “debacle” for Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The newspaper Corriere della Sera, which is not at all hostile to the government, declared that Italians had “cut Berlusconi down to size.”

Italy: Rifondazione joins with Prodi

By Marianne Arens and Peter Schwarz, 28 March 2005

The sixth party congress of Rifondazione Comunista (PRC) has finally dispelled the illusion that this party in any way represents a socialist alternative to the bourgeois parties.

Berlusconi government in predicament over US shooting of Italian journalist

By Peter Symonds, 15 March 2005

The right-wing Italian government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was in trouble last week following the March 4 attack by US solders on a car carrying freed hostage Giuliana Sgrena to Baghdad airport. US soldiers opened fire on the vehicle wounding Sgrena, a journalist for the leftist Il Manifesto newspaper, and killing Nicola Calipari, the Italian intelligence agent responsible for negotiating her release.

Italian President Ciampi blocks Berlusconi’s justice “reforms”

By Marianne Arens, 29 December 2004

On December 16, Italian President Carlo Ciampi refused to sign Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s justice reform bill, thereby blocking its enactment. The “reforms” were passed by the Italian parliament on December 1, on the basis of the votes of the right-wing majority, consisting of Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, the neo-fascist Alleanza Nazionale (National Alliance), the Lega Nord (Northern League) and the UDC (Christian Democrats).

Italy carries out mass deportation of refugees

By Martin Kreickenbaum, 9 October 2004

While the European Union is still discussing how to circumvent international law in order to establish camps for refugees in North Africa, the Italian government is creating facts on the ground. In defiance of existing national laws and international agreements, last weekend it summarily deported to Libya up to 1,000 refugees who had reached Italy’s Mediterranean island of Lampedusa. They were expelled from the country without being allowed to apply for asylum.

Berlusconi government wracked by crisis

By Marianne Arens and Peter Schwarz, 26 July 2004

Over the recent period, the right-wing Italian government led by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (Forza Italia—Italy Forward) has been plunged into its deepest crisis since taking power three years ago. Observers of Italian politics are increasingly asking whether the government will be able to complete its term in office to 2006, or whether new elections will be called.

The Parmalat scandal and globalization: impact on the Italian economy

By Chris Sverige, 17 April 2004

Although it will be more than a year before those involved in one of the biggest cases of corporate fraud in European history are brought to trial, the impact of the Parmalat scandal can be seen throughout the economic landscape. Food giant Parmalat, Italy’s eighth-largest industrial empire, collapsed late last year amid fraud accusations against top company executives and scandal involving several major players from the world of international finance.

Norwegian festival withdraws Berlusconi documentary after meeting with Italian officials

By Richard Phillips, 1 April 2004

Last Friday, two days before the 3rd European Documentary Film Festival in Oslo, Norway, Film Institute (NFI) director Vigdis Lian announced that Citizen Berlusconi, a 56-minute documentary on Italy’s prime minister, would not be shown at the event. Lian made the decision after meeting with Italian embassy officials.

Massive anti-war protest in Rome

By a correspondent, 22 March 2004

Rome saw the biggest antiwar demonstration worldwide, with over one million demonstrators participating in a march through the centre of the Italian capital. The protest was jointly organised by trade unions, anti-globalisation groups and parties of the official Italian left. Demonstrators came by special buses and trains from all regions of Italy. The march, which had to be started earlier than scheduled, lasted over seven hours.

Italy: Investigators ignore role of banks and political leaders in Parmalat scandal

By Chris Sverige, 11 February 2004

More than six weeks after the biggest corporate scandal of 2003 came to light, investigators are about to issue formal charges against Parmalat’s top managers. The authorities have, however, shown little interest in exposing the role of banks and leading politicians in this disaster. Meanwhile, the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is scrambling to restore investor confidence amid growing anger among those hurt by the multinational’s collapse.

Italy: Court overturns Berlusconi’s immunity law

By Marianne Arens, 23 January 2004

On January 13, the Italian constitutional court revoked a law that had granted Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi immunity from criminal prosecution until the end of his term in office.

Rome: Mass demonstration to defend pensions

By Marianne Arens, 11 December 2003

An estimated 1 million people took part in a national demonstration in Rome last Saturday under the slogan “Defend your Future.” Demonstrators travelled from across the country in 3,000 buses and specially organised trains, and included workers, public employees and pensioners. Also in attendance were large numbers of young people, unemployed, workers in short-term jobs, and leading cultural figures such as dramatist Dario Fo and writer Antonio Tabucchi.

Italy: 10-million-strong general strike protests pension cuts

By Marianne Arens, 28 October 2003

On Friday, October 24, an estimated 10 million workers and office employees took part in a general strike with the central aim of protesting the pension policy of the government of Silvio Berlusconi. One-and-a-half million people—including pensioners, students and the unemployed—participated in rallies in the centres of Italy’s main cities. They carried banners with slogans such as “Defend our future” and “Better to die young than live to a ripe old age—if Berlusconi gets his way!”

Italy: Berlusconi intensifies his attacks on the judiciary

By Peter Schwarz, 19 September 2003

At the beginning of this month, Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi once again hit the headlines with an onslaught against the judiciary. In an interview with the right-wing British magazine the Spectator during his recent holiday in Sardinia, the current chairman of the European Union (EU) council declared: “These judges are mad twice over. First because they are politically that way, and second because they are mad anyway. To do that job you need to be mentally disturbed, anthropologically different from the rest of humanity.”

Italy’s new media law tailor-made for Berlusconi

By Christopher Sverige, 10 September 2003

In the face of antitrust rulings, protests by Italian media organizations and an appeal by the head of state to safeguard pluralism in the media, the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is set to finalize the “Gasparri Law,” a set of rules championed by neo-fascist minister of communications, Maurizio Gasparri.

Italian government takes tougher line on refugees

By Martin Kreikenbaum, 25 July 2003

Two ships packed with refugees on their way to Italy capsized on June 16 and 20, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 250 people. The response of the Italian government to this tragedy, however, has been to vilify refugees, announce tougher measures to fend off incoming refugees and force states bordering the European Union (EU) to do the same.

Berlusconi and Europe

By Peter Schwarz, 16 July 2003

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s start of a six-month stint in the presidency of the European Union has produced a wave of disquiet in the European media. There is hardly a leading newspaper that has not dedicated an article or comment to the subject. Der Spiegel came out with a headline “Silvio Berlusconi: The Godfather.” Le Monde headed an article, “Tailor-made justice, control of the media: The dark side of Italy under Berlusconi.” And the Financial Times published a comment under the heading “Why Berlusconi could be bad for Europe.”

Communist Refoundation: Italian Stalinism’s new “experiment” with electoral opportunism

By Christopher Sverige, 21 June 2003

If a lesson can be drawn from the recent administrative elections in Italy, it is that opportunism is alive and well in the remnants of the Italian Communist Party (PCI).

Berlusconi attacks independence of the Italian judiciary

By Peter Schwarz, 9 May 2003

Italian head of government Silvio Berlusconi has reacted to the conviction of his long-time lawyer and close confidante Cesare Previti by declaring war on the independence of the Italian judiciary. His offensive against the Italian legal system is unprecedented for a postwar European democracy.

The politics of tactical manoeuvre

Interview with Paolo Ferrero of Italy’s Communist Refoundation Party

By Marianne Arens and Peter Schwarz, 2 May 2003

The Italian Partito della Rifondazione Comunista (PRC) is seen as a role model by many on the European left. The Communist Refoundation Party, as its name correctly translates, was established in 1991 by members of the Italian Communist Party, who rejected its transformation into a left democratic party, the present day Democratic Left (DS). Since then the PRC has absorbed many organisations of the radical left and plays an important role on the left fringe of official Italian politics. Obtaining 8.6 percent of electoral votes in 1996 and 5 percent in 2001, it has representatives in parliament.

After the fall of Baghdad

Hundreds of thousands demonstrate in Rome

By Marianne Arens and Francis Dubois, 14 April 2003

Several hundred thousand people—half a million according to the organisers—demonstrated in Rome under the slogan “stop the shooting.” The demonstration was called by “Fermiamo la guerra” (Stop the War), a loose conglomerate of NGOs, political parties, trade unions and church organisations. The march, which was 8 kilometres long, went through the centre of Rome, past the most important government buildings and the American and British embassies.

Italy: Strikes, protests against layoffs at Fiat

By Peter Schwarz, 12 December 2002

Over the last week, thousands of workers have undertaken strike action, blockades of workplaces and motorways and held demonstrations to protest against mass redundancies planned by the Italian auto concern Fiat.

Italian courts attack opponents of globalisation

By Marianne Arens, 9 December 2002

On the morning of December 3, the district court of Catanzaro (Calabria, southern Italy) ordered, on the basis of a review of remand conditions, the immediate release of 18 opponents of globalisation who had been arrested on November 15. Seven of them, including several members of the alternative COBAS trade unions, had been imprisoned in Viterbo, Latina and Trani for more than two weeks; the others had been under house arrest. They have been accused of “subversive activities” and “obstruction of the economic order”. The charges remain in force even though the arrest warrants have been lifted.

Italy: Twenty anti-globalization activists arrested in police sweeps

Charged under Mussolini-era subversion laws

By Stefan Steinberg, 21 November 2002

Less than a week after one of the biggest anti-war demonstrations in Europe since the end of World War II, the Italian judiciary and police have conducted a large-scale operation against anti-globalisation protesters.

Over 500,000 march in Florence against Iraq war

By our own correspondent, 12 November 2002

In one of the largest peace demonstrations ever held in post-war Europe, more than 500,000 people marched in Florence, Italy November 9 to protest US plans for war against Iraq. Demonstrators came from many European countries, as well as from North America and other parts of the world.

Fiat to sack 25 percent of workforce

Mass protests against job cuts in Italy

By Peter Schwarz, 26 October 2002

Millions of workers in Italy have taken to the streets in recent days to protest against job cuts. According to the trade unions, a total of 13 million workers took part in an 8-hour nationwide general strike on October 15. Most of Italy’s public transport came to a standstill and over a million joined demonstrations held in a total of 120 cities. The biggest protests occurred in the northern city of Turin, home of the Italian auto industry.

Italy: state attorneys expose police provocation at Genoa G-8 summit

By Peter Schwarz, 10 October 2002

In July of 2001, film clips of violent unrest on the fringes of the G-8 summit in Genoa, Italy were flashed all around the world. The port city witnessed violent conflicts between demonstrators and the Italian security forces. One demonstrator was killed, 600 injured, some seriously, and hundreds were arrested and held for several days.

200,000 protest in Rome vs Berlusconi’s legal “reforms”

By Chris Marsden, 19 September 2002

An estimated 200,000 protesters gathered in the square in front of Rome’s San Giovanni basilica on September 16 to oppose legal reforms planned by the right-wing government of Silvio Berlusconi. The legislation is designed to scupper the prime minister’s upcoming corruption trial.

Berlusconi recasts Italian state television in his own image

By Chris Sverige, 3 June 2002

Prime Minister and media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi has used his majority in parliament to push through the reorganization of Radiotelevisione Italiana (RAI), the state-owned network of public television, radio and satellite stations. The changes effectively put an end to the RAI as an institution that, to a limited extent, provided a political forum for different social interests—not only those of big business.

Eight-hour general strike in Italy

By Peter Schwarz in Florence, 17 April 2002

Large parts of Italy came to a standstill yesterday, when 13 million workers followed a call by the three main union federations for an eight-hour general strike. It was the first such national stoppage in Italy for twenty years. The entire transport sector, most public services and large parts of the private sector were on strike.

A portrait of Italy’s Berlusconi government: "All for One, and One for Himself"

Berlusconi’s Forza Italia: Part 2

By Peter Schwarz, 16 April 2002

In June 2001, for the second time since 1994, a right-wing government led by the media mogul Silvio Berlusconi came to power in Rome. Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, the neo-fascist Alleanza Nazionale and the separatist Lega Nord formed a coalition that violates the political norms of what was considered normal and acceptable in post-war Europe. Below is the first part of a two-part article analyzing the ideological and political roots of Forza Italia. Further articles, dealing with the other parties in the coalition and the reasons for its accession to power, will follow later. The first part of this article was posted on Monday, April 15.

A portrait of Italy’s Berlusconi government: "All for One, and One for Himself"

Berlusconi’s Forza Italia: Part 1

By Peter Schwarz, 15 April 2002

In June 2001, for the second time since 1994, a right-wing government led by the media mogul Silvio Berlusconi came to power in Rome. Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, the neo-fascist Alleanza Nazionale and the separatist Lega Nord formed a coalition that violates the political norms of what was considered normal and acceptable in post-war Europe. Below is the first part of a two-part article analyzing the ideological and political roots of Forza Italia. Further articles, dealing with the other parties in the coalition and the reasons for its accession to power, will follow later. The second part of this article will be posted on Tuesday, April 16.

Millions demonstrate in Rome against Berlusconi

By Peter Schwarz, 26 March 2002

Between two and three million people converged on Rome March 23 to protest the policies of the Berlusconi government in the biggest demonstration in the history of post-war Italy.

Hundreds of thousands demonstrate in Rome against Berlusconi government

By Andy Niklaus and Peter Schwarz, 7 March 2002

On Saturday, March 2, hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Rome for a mass demonstration against the government of Silvio Berlusconi. The rally was called by the centre-left parliamentary opposition, headed by the Left Democrats.

Italian foreign minister resigns

By Patrick Richter, 19 January 2002

On New Year’s Eve, while other European capitals were celebrating the introduction of the new single currency, the euro, in Italy there was only an accentuated silence. No ceremonies were held in Rome, and in contrast to his European Union (EU) colleagues, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi did not consider it necessary to do anything at all to honour the new currency.

Muslims, anti-globalization movements labeled enemies of the "West"

Racist vomit from Italy’s PM Berlusconi

By Stefan Steinberg, 29 September 2001

In a brief visit to Berlin last Wednesday, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi identified Islam and opponents of global capitalism as the targets of a “Western crusade” for “civilised values,” in the wake of the terror attacks in New York and Washington.