Italian President Warns of Violent Unrest in 2014
President Giorgio Napolitano has warned that Italy faces violent civil unrest in 2014 as anti-EU demonstrations intensify in response to the country's worsening economy and a total loss of faith in the state.
"The crisis affecting the euro zone has put a strain on social cohesion. The most detailed forecasts for 2014 indicate a risk of widespread social tension and unrest: a risk that must been kept in mind and confronted in Italy," Napolitano said during an address at his presidential palace in Rome, adding that citizens "could get involved in haphazard and even violent protests, in an extreme and unfruitful surge of total opposition to politics and institutions".
As we reported last week, anti-EU sentiment is now so prevalent amongst Italians that riot police sent to harass protesters in some cities are removing their helmets and joining with the demonstrators.
The country has been rocked with a prolonged "pitchfork" (Forconi) revolt over fuel prices, globalization, soaring unemployment, and the European Union’s draconian austerity measures, with a diverse group of Italians, from farmers to students, coming together under one umbrella.
The Telegraph's Ambrose Evans-Pritchard notes how, "This is becoming an anti-EU movement. One of the Forconi leaders has just been arrested for climbing up the EU offices in Rome and ripping down Europe’s blue and gold flag."
Italian youth unemployment is over 40 per cent as the country remains embroiled in a deep recession, while the overall jobless figure hit a record high of 12.5 per cent at the end of October. A staggering 134 retail outlets in Italy are closed every day and business failures are up 10 per cent since last year alone.
Evans-Pritchard also points out that while Napolitano is concerned about the potential for domestic disorder, he offers no solution whatsoever for Italy's predicament because he remains a vehement supporter of the very same EU-friendly economic policies that got the country into this mess in the first place.
While the threat of violent domestic disorder across the European Union has been voiced by analysts for years, it's rare for presidents to join the chorus.
The potential for mass civil unrest spilling over borders as a result of a collapse of the euro single currency prompted the Swiss Army last year to mobilize extra troops as a safeguard against the turmoil spreading.