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Protests throw oranges, shout 'buffoon' at Renzi

New premier brushes off demonstrators, says dissent normal

26 February, 13:51
Protests throw oranges, shout 'buffoon' at Renzi (ANSA) - Treviso, February 26 - Protesters threw oranges and shouted "buffoon" at Premier Matteo Renzi Wednesday as he visited a northern Italian school during his first week on the job.

None of the fruit found its target and Renzi brushed off the protests that included the Forconi ("Pitchfork") movement as well as regionalists who shouted "murderer" at the premier to back their demands for a referendum on the northern Veneto region separating from the rest of Italy.

Renzi, whose fledgling government was approved in confidence votes only one day earlier, was visiting a school in Treviso as part of his pledge to visit a different school each week.

A leader of the Forconi movement said they were not behind the orange pelting because their group tackled problems "with courage and determination, but always with civility".

Renzi said the protests are a "normal" part of political life.

"It's normal, and we do not walk a celebrity runway or cut ribbons, but we talk with a real country".

The Pitchfork movement started among struggling Sicilian farmers early in 2102 and has since spread to their counterparts in northern Italy, enlisting disgruntled or bankrupt truckers and small businessmen as well as swathes of recently impoverished citizens along the way.