Italian students protest austerity cuts

Nov 25

Tens of thousands of Italian students have taken part in demonstrations to protest the government’s proposed education reform plans.

On a second day of nationwide rallies, students marched on the streets and occupied university buildings in various cities, Reuters reported.

They also entered and occupied the Leaning Tower of Pisa, as well as the Colosseum.

As part of the government’s proposed austerity measures, Italy’s Education Minister Mariastella Gelmini has put forward a controversial reform bill, which is currently being discussed in the lower house of parliament.

The reforms will create a more “merit-based system”, Gelmini says.

Protesters say, however, that universities already have a funding deficit of EUR 1.35 billion next year and the proposed cuts will further harm Italy’s higher education system.

While demonstrations are reported to have been largely peaceful, one student was injured during clashes with the police in Florence.

On Wednesday, students attempted to enter parliament but were beaten back by riot police.

On the same day, skirmishes broke out outside the Senate between police and protesters, some of whom stormed into the building.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s troubled government is struggling with a huge budget deficit and no longer has a built-in majority in the lower house of parliament due to coalition infighting.

Four ministers have so far resigned from his cabinet, joining Speaker of Parliament Gianfranco Fini’s new Future and Liberty for Italy Party.

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