Unelected leader Mario Monti has forced through 30 billion euros of austerity cuts by parliamentary decree. These new cuts will be implemented before Italy’s parliament can discuss them.
Monti has waived his salary as both prime minister and finance minister to save the eurozone money. But most Italians won’t applaud his sacrifice—he is a rich ex-banker who wants them to pay for the crisis the bankers sparked.
The European Central Bank says that Italy is too big to fail and too big to bail out. It has almost two trillion euros of debt—120 percent of its GDP.
Monti’s austerity plans include:
- Local housing tax reintroduced to raise 3.5 billion euros a year
- VAT rises
- Tax on property sales to raise five billion euros a year
- Privatisation of utilities. This is despite the fact that plans to privatise water were overwhelmingly defeated in a referendum in June
- Health spending cuts of five billion euros from 2013
- Higher minimum retirement age
- State pension age to rise to 66
- Outlawing cash transactions over 1,000 euros supposedly to discourage tax evasion
The CGIL, Italy’s main union federation, has held two general strikes this year. There is growing anger on the streets, from school students to pensioners. These are the people who can stop Monti in his tracks.