Several hundred thousand workers, pensioners, immigrants and students filled a Rome park on Saturday in protest at the Italian government’s handling of the financial crisis.
Led by Italy’s largest union, the left-wing Italian General Confederation of Labour, many wore red hats or waved the CGIL’s red flag as helicopters circled above Rome’s Circo Massimo, an ancient hippodrome.
“There’s too big a gap between what needs to be done and what is being done,” CGIL leader Guglielmo Epifani told the throng, with banners reading “Together to Build a Different Future” and “Down with the New Mussolini.”
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“It’s a pleasure to see the park filled once more,” he said, recalling a mass protest in 2002 that drew three million people to the same venue to protest a bill that would have annulled a law protecting against unfair dismissal.
That protest took place under the last government of Silvio Berlusconi, the conservative self-made billionaire who was elected to a third stint as prime minister last year.
Helping swell the numbers at Saturday’s protest to 2.7 million according to the CGIL — although just 200,000 according to police — 40 trainloads and nearly 5,000 buses as well as two ships had ferried protesters to Rome from all over Italy.