Protests broke out today (Tuesday) as Italy’s corrupt prime minister Silvio Berlusconi survived a vote of no confidence.
He comfortably won the vote in the senate, the upper house of the Italian parliament, by 162 votes to 135. But in the Lower House it was 314 votes for, with 311 against.
Some MPs expected to vote against Berlusconi changed their minds after lucrative offers.
Demonstrators had gathered before the vote to mark their hopes for an end to Berlusconi’s regime and to protest against neoliberal education “reform”.
In Rome, university and high school students as well as metal workers from the FIOM union and other trade unionists joined with immigrants and people from local housing and food collectives. Placards included, “United against the crisis” and “If You Don’t Fall Yourselves, We’ll Be Your Banana Skin.”
Some news reports said there were 100,000 present. Protesters travelled on 80 coaches, plus cars and trains from all over the country.
In Milan over 5,000 gathered against the reforms and the government. From the early morning school children walked out and blocked roads in the city. Around 100 students stormed the Milan stock exchange and raised a banner reading, “Jumble of businessmen, racists, thieves, gangsters. Fund Our Future”.
Students later occupied the main square and threw firecrackers at police. Protesters threw red paint and eggs at banks as the students thronged through the city centre.
Students staged a brief sit-in on the landing strip at Palermo airport and some 3,000 marched through the centre of Catania in Sicily.
There were also protests in Bari, Cagliari, Genoa, Naples and Turin.
Berlusconi’s bought and paid for survival today does not mean Italy’s political crisis is over. He is under pressure from business to unveil more austerity policies. But he’s hardly in a state to do that, and at the same time opposition from below is becoming more confident.
Huge student protests have brought parts of the country to a standstill in recent weeks.