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Opposition hold rally to 'defend national unity'

Opposition hold rally to 'defend national unity'

Protest also against ruling coalition's 'violence, intimidation'

ROME, 18 June 2024, 20:05

ANSA English Desk



Most of the Italian opposition parties staged a rally in Rome on Tuesday to "defend national unity" and the Constitution in the face of the government's controversial planned reforms for directly elected premiers and more allegedly divisive regional autonomy and also to protest against alleged "violence and intimidation" by the ruling coalition after an MP for the 5-Star Movement (M5S) needed medical attention following a brawl in the Lower House last week.
    The M5S, the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), the Green-Left Alliance (AVS) and the More Europe party held the rally in Rome's Piazza Santissimi Apostoli and several other organizations also took part, including Partisans association ANPI and the CGIL Italy's biggest and most leftwiing trade union.
    The centrist opposition Italia Viva and Azione parties, however, did not take part.
    The protest is against two controversial moves by Premier Giorgia Meloni's rightwing executive, to introduce a directly elected premier - which the opposition says will lead to an authoritarian drift but which Meloni says will boost democracy and stability - and to raise even higher the autonomy of Italy's 20 regions.
    The ugly scenes in parliament broke out on Wednesday as the House was examining the government's controversial bill for 'differentiated autonomy', which will enable regions to request more power over how the tax revenues collected in their areas are spent and which critics say will worsen Italy' north-south divide.
    At one stage M5S MP Leonardo Donno tried to hand an Italian flag to Regional Affairs and Autonomy Minister Roberto Calderoli, prompting a number of MPs from the governing coalition to rush over.
    A male MP can be seen attempting to land punches in the footage of the incident.
    Donno ended up on the floor and had to be taken out of the chamber in a wheelchair.
    He subsequently said he was all right following medical tests and accused League MP Igor Iezzi of punching him in the face.
    Iezzi denied this, admitting he had tried to deliver punches but saying he had failed to land a blow.
    Eleven MPs have been suspended over the brawl, with penalties ranging from two to 15 days.
    Iezzi got the longest ban while Donno was suspended too, for four days.
    Donno on Tuesday filed a criminal complaint over the incident.
    Italian Left leader Nicola Fratoianni, of the AVS, meanwhile said ahead of the anti-reform and anti-intimidation rally: "To the institutional violence of the Right, to the Split-Italy reform and the full powers of the premiership, we respond with out bodies, our voices, our smiles.
    "The true face of the country, that which does not give in and which resists this dangerous Right".
    As the rally got under way the crowd in Piazza Santissimi Apostoli chanted the partisan resistance song Bella Ciao.
    They held up placards calling Meloni and her supporters "fascists" and alluding to a TV investigative report showing members of her party Brothers of Italy's youth wing hailing Mussolini and neofascist terrorists and chanting Duce and Sieg Heil.

AVS Senate Whip  Peppe De Cristofaro claimed there was "an ugly climate" and "Fascist resurgences" in Italy as allegedly shown also by the repeated vandalism of late Communist leader Enrico Berlinguer's tomb and the vandalism of the plaque marking where Mussolini critic and Socialist MP Giacomo Matteotti's body was found in 1924.



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