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Elections, Earthquakes and bombings

Italians voted against austerity at the weekend, picking protest candidates to govern a number of cities creating a major shift in the political landscape.

Amongst a low turnout, encumbered Technocratic Prime Minister Mario Monti’s austerity programme did not fare well. The two major parties backing Monti’s plans suffered heavy defeats at the polls. In Parma the comedian Beppe Grillo’s Five-Star movement added to its surprise meteoric rise by winning the office of city mayor.

Former president Silvio Berlusconi’s party suffered crushing defeats all across the country.

“These days the Italian people feel they can’t trust the political class,” said political analyst Luigi Spinola in Rome. “And that is also down to the fact that 20 years after the ‘Clean Hands’ political corruption scandal, fresh scandals have shown that many parties still fail to manage public money in a transparent way.

“There is certainly a very tense social climate. Recently we have seen a rising level of tension concerning possible acts of terrorism by groups who would like to exploit this situation.

“So it is clear that beyond the political stability of this government and the willingness of these weakened parties to continue supporting unpopular measures, now there is a new problem to face: the security and stability of Italian society.”

As reported last week tensions are increasing across the country. A small bomb exploded near a polling station in the northern municipality of Rapallo. A second device was later found in the Genoa region. These bombs add to the rising sense of unease. On Saturday morning a bomb exploded outside of a school killing a 16 year old girl and wounding five other pupils. The bombing sparked protests on the streets of Brindisi, the place where the girl was killed.

The father of one of the wounded pupils said “It was not an act of intimidation, it was a real attack. What was the motive?” he said.

As yet, no-one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

A powerful Earthquake added to Italy’s woes yesterday. The 6.0 quake devastated many small towns in the North of the country killing seven people and leaving many cultural sites in ruins. Several aftershocks have continued to hit the area leaving 5,000 people displaced from their homes. The country’s economy has been damaged as a result, at a time when it least needs it to be. Farmers’ group Coldiretti said that at least 300,000 rounds of hard cheese had been damaged, at a cost of hundreds of millions of Euros.

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