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Anti-government protests in third day

'Pitchfork Movement' threatens large-scale Rome demonstration

11 December, 13:21
Anti-government protests in third day (see related) (ANSA) - Rome, December 11 - Anti-government protests continued into their third day across Italy on Wednesday under the moniker of the so-called 'Forconi' (Pitchforks) Movement. Demonstrations spanned south to north, where cities such as Milan and Turin so far showed the greatest turnout. In Turin, where protesters opposed to austerity-driven tax hikes have snarled traffic, a large group of student demonstrators was at the forefront of marches. Protests continued to shut down places of commerce around the city, such as local food markets. In the port city of Genoa, demonstrators occupied the central square, and in nearby Savona they organized in front of the offices of tax-collection agency Equitalia. Marches were taking place throughout the northeastern Veneto region as well, though traffic remained uninterrupted. In the southern town of Bisceglie, the train station was occupied by protesters, as they have done in several other stations in Italy, tying up passenger and freight lines.

Pitchfork leaders have vowed a large-scale demonstration in Rome if MPs do not abstain from a confidence vote in parliament later Wednesday. The Pitchfork Movement started among struggling Sicilian farmers early last year 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.

Recent protests have also featured rightist groups as well as students on the two political fringes.

Policemen facing longer hours and lower pay apparently expressed solidarity after a recent protest by taking their helmets off but police chiefs denied this, claiming it was a normal way of making sure tempers had settled.