[en] Matteo Renzi’s gamble with democracy: the Italian constitutional referendum

matteo_renzi_in_russiaOn December 4th 2016 the Italian people will be called upon to vote in a referendum on the constitutional reform put forward by Matteo Renzi’s conservative and pro-austerity government. The topic is dominating Italian political life, because of the major impact the reform would have on the political and institutional life of the Italian Republic if approved, and because of the political turmoil that would follow if rejected.

The focus on the referendum has quickly polarized the Italian socio-political world, allowing every major socio-political force to divert attention from its own flaws. The Government and the Democratic Party are facing growing popular opposition, due to the enormous gap between the trumpeted effects of policies and the real-life struggles of a growing number of people living in Italy, struggles caused by neoliberal European Union driven government policies. The Five Star Movement, despite recent electoral victories in Rome and Turin, is still struggling with its identity and structure, and the mediocrity of its MPs and local politicians is showing. Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, the Northern League and the rest of the right-wing parties see the referendum as a way of dislodging Renzi from power, only to get it back and apply the very same neoliberal policies. The various left-wing parties see the opportunity as a way of coming back to the national stage as a reliable and stable political force. The employers’ federation Confindustria is also favouring this national debate, since it’s conveniently diverting attention from diminishing salaries, labour rights and safety and increasing precariety, and employers’ corresponding enrichment.

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[en] Jacopo Fo’s speech at his father Dario’s funeral


Dario Fo, actor, Nobel prizewinner, communist and political activist died in Milan on October 13th. He was 90 years of age. Fo was the spouse and coworker of Franca Rame, who passed away in 2013, and father of Jacopo Fo, writer, activist and actor. Dario Fo married Franca Rame in 1954, and together they created the Dario Fo–Franca Rame Theatre Company, which brought life to dramatic pieces known all over the world. Accidental Death of an Anarchist, their most famous work, dealt with the death of anarchist Giuseppe Pinelli who fell – or rather was thrown – from the fourth floor window of a Milan police station in 1969.

The funeral was preceded by controversy around a number of hypocritical tributes. Many of those who praised Fo tried to separate the actor and the artist from the political activist. Jacopo exploded in protest on Facebook, commenting that ‘Of course, right now everybody is celebrating Dario. After spending a lifetime trying to censure and hit him in every possible way. Screw them.’

Dario Fo’s funeral was held in Milan, in the Duomo Square, on the morning of Saturday 15th October 2016. Many people, not discouraged by the heavy rain, attended the non-religious ceremony, and his closest friend spoke, remembering his life force, his laughter, his work, his political and artistic commitment and his love for his wife. The last to speak was a visibly moved Jacopo:

“To all of you here, I’d like to tell you a story from many years ago, when I was still a child.

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[en] Last remaining housing occupation in Bologna has been evicted

mariodemariaThe eviction of the last remaining housing occupation in Bologna – around 100 people, 34
of them children, living in a building in Via Mario De Maria, in the working-class neighborhood of Bolognina – started at dawn on October 11. The police and the carabinieri surrounded the block and raided the building, beating people and even using pepper spray, the residents say.

The newly elected council member for the housing emergency, Virginia Gieri, said that the residents “came out peacefully”, but the residents and witnesses say something different. One man passed out after he was beaten and another person was injured.

Gieri, a loyal follower of Renzi, was appointed to the delicate job of being in charge of the housing emergency in Bologna, after the last incumbent, Amelia Frascaroli, was considered to be too soft. Renzi’s government is holding a line of absolute repression against housing occupations, and PD local authorities all over Italy are toeing this line, even in places – like Bologna – where the party claims to be more “tolerant” and to have a welfare-oriented tradition.

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[en] New trial over Stefano Cucchi’s death in custody

stefano cucchi's death in custody

Ilaria Cucchi, Stefano’s sister, showing a photo of her brother’s body

Italian newspapers, media and people on social media have started talking about Stefano Cucchi’s death again. That’s because the results of a legal report about the causes of his death were published on 4th October, suggesting that he died because of epilepsy.

Stefano Cucchi was arrested on a drugs charge during October 2009 and died in hospital after a week of detention. He was severely undernourished, covered in bruises and had multiple fractures and injuries to his internal organs. The circumstances of his death polarized the public: those who accused the police of brutality and those who defended them. Carlo Giovanardi, a member of the former Berlusconi Government, claimed that Stefano had died because he fell down the stairs, and also because he was a drug addict.

During the first trials, a total of 12 people were accused of his death: three nurses, six doctors and three police prison officers. On 5th June 2015, the trial came to an end. Only the doctors were sentenced, with a maximum term of two years. The nurses and the police officers were found not guilty, because Stefano had died of malnutrition and dehydration as a result of the doctors’ lack of intervention. No-one was found guilty of the bruises, fractures and other injuries found on Stefano’s body.

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[fr] Travailleur de la logistique tué à Plaisance pendant une grève

usb-piacenza-300x225Durant la nuit du 14 au 15 Septembre, Abdelssalam Eldanf fut tué alors qu’il était en grève avec ses collègues devant l’usine de logistique GLS dans la ville italienne de Plaisance. Il fut écrasé par un camion qui tentait de forcer le piquet de grève. D’après les grévistes, le conducteur de camion s’est exécuté a la demande du responsable du personnel de l’usine.

Précédemment, une grève à été faite au sein de l’entreprise SEAM chargée de la gestion l’usine de GLS. Suite au licenciement de 37 travailleurs temporaires, un groupe de travailleurs organisés dans le syndicat de base USB, qui portait les revendications des salariés de l’usine. SEAM avait convenu de rembaucher 13 des travailleurs, pour finalement faire volte-face. Par conséquent, les travailleurs se sont mis en grève et ont bloqué la sortie des camions de l’usine.

Les travailleurs ont témoigné qu’ils ont entendu le responsable du personnel crier au conducteur du camion “Vas-y! Vas-y!” ainsi que les refus répétés du conducteur. Puis, après plusieurs ordres insistants du responsable, le chauffeur pris le camion et commença à conduire dans une rue étroite et à haute vitesse. Eldanf, et deux autres travailleurs, un d’entre eux blessé, ont été frappés. La police qui surveillait la protestation ne fit rien.

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[en] Logistic worker killed while on strike in Piacenza

logistics worker killed in piacenza

During the night between September 14 and 15, Abdelssalam Eldanf was killed while he was on strike with other workers in front of the GLS logistic plant in Piacenza. He was crushed by a truck that was trying to force the picket line. According to the workers, the truck driver was ordered to break the picket line by the Chief of Staff at the plant.

A strike had been called against the company contracted to run the plant, the SEAM. The company had fired 37 temporary workers, as well as a group of workers organized with the USB base union, who were actively leading struggles on the workplace. SEAM had previously agreed to re-hire 13 of the workers, but it suddenly rejected the agreement. Therefore, the workers immediately went on strike and blocked the exit of trucks from the plant.

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[en] Workers occupy ILVA steel plant in Genoa


When it was closed on the order of a judge for causing environmental damage, the ILVA steel plant in Taranto was the biggest in Europe. The parent ILVA group, which owns several other plants in Italy, was the largest in Europe, employing a total of 14,000 workers. Current figures suggest it is no longer the number one steel producer, and production has halved since the court order.

By government decree, the plants have to be sold by the end of June. Any offers must be received by February 20 but nothing concrete has emerged so far, even though the government has allocated €800 million for the environmental rehabilitation of the Taranto plant. Meanwhile, the group’s competitors in Europe have pushed the European Commission to open an inquiry into ILVA and the state subsidies it receives. The most persistent in asking for the Commission’s intervention has been one of ILVA’s major rivals, the German steel group ThyssenKrupp.

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