People All Over Italy Are Angry at Their Government

After a vote today, protesters might start a peaceful march on Rome.

Dec 10 2013, 7:24pm

Italians aren't particularly happy with their government at the moment. The "pitchfork" movement – which started as a group of Sicilian farmers pushing for government reforms – has morphed into something a lot bigger: small businessmen, truckers, low-paid workers, students, members of the far right and the unemployed from all over the country taking to the streets to shout about how awful everything is.

Besides the dissolution of the Italian government, some kind of anti-EU sentiment and the lowering of taxes for small businesses, the exact aims of the movement aren't entirely clear. But that never stopped Occupy. And much like Occupy, pitchfork protests aren't confined to one specific area; on Monday, demonstrations against the government and the austerity they've imposed on their public took place all over the country. However, it was in Turin, northern Italy where things really kicked off (and where the photos in the gallery above were taken).

The day's protest began with groups demonstrating in the city's two train stations, before they eventually converged in the central square, Piazza Castello. There, they began hurling stones at police officers, who responded with barrages of tear gas. Weirdly, one group of protesters then turned their attention to journalists and photographers, attacking one photographer with a stick and stealing or smashing the equipment of two others.

After everyone had their fill of lobbing stuff at each other, protesters demanded that police remove their helmets. And to the crowd's shock and excitement, they did. Police unions UGL, SIULP say the officers took their protective gear off in solidarity with the protesters, but two police departments later said that officers removed their helmets because the situation was calm, not as an act of support for the movement.

Capitalising on that little surprise, Beppe Grillo – leader of the Five Star Movement, an opposition party that has no real link to the pitchfork protests – called on all of Italy's police yesterday to remove their helmets, stop defending the country's ruling politicians and join the pitchfork movement themselves.

Today, a confidence vote is being held in Parliament, called for by Prime Minister Enrico Letta to confirm his parliamentary majority after Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party left the ruling coalition. Danilo Calvani, an organiser of the pitchfork movement, told press yesterday that, if the government wins the vote and the current politicians keep their positions, the protest group would start a peaceful march on Rome. However, Mariano Ferro – the founder of the movement – told journalists otherwise, stating that protests would continue for a few days first. "It is necessary to have a few more days of passion and make Italians' adrenaline rise," he said.

Post vote, I suppose we'll see whether Calvani decides to tow the movement line.

See more of Mattia's work on his website.

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