- Title: ITALY: Italian mayors protest against austerity package
- Date: 27th August 2011
- Summary: ROME, ITALY (AUGUST 26, 2011) (REUTERS) MAYORS GATHERED OUTSIDE PARLIAMENT VARIOUS OF PEOPLE DANCING TO FOLK MUSIC / MUSICIANS
- Embargoed: 11th September 2011 10:04
- Location: Italy, Italy
- Country: Italy
- Topics: Economy,Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA62ZVBRFH61AACFK8AGYMO5XW
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: Hundreds of mayors, sporting their ceremonial sashes, demonstrated outside Italy's parliament on Friday (August 26) to protest against the government's austerity package. The package would include the merging together of small communities with less than 1,000 inhabitants.
Italy's centre-right government approved the 45.5 billion euro mix of spending cuts and tax hikes earlier this month to meet European Central Bank demands for action but is now discussing several proposed tweaks as the package makes its way through parliament.
The new austerity package must be passed by mid-October and Italy is under pressure from markets and its international partners to approve it considerably earlier. But it has been subject to a raft of criticism.
Local mayors say the merging together of communities will destroy traditional Italian culture and exclude communities from basic services. Many of the communities that will be affected come from the north of Italy.
"I think it is really important to keep our traditional history," said deputy mayor of Morsasco, Luigi Barbero.
"This is a people's fight that needs to be taken up by all citizens, it is not a political fight, we care for our citizens over and above everything else," said Monica Ghio, mayor from the northern town of San Cristoforo.
Close to 2,000 communities risk losing their mayors in the package, in an attempt to slim down the country's bloated bureaucracy. Funding to regions and local governments would be cut by 6 billion euros in 2012 and 3.5 billion in 2013.
"If these cuts were of any use, we would be the first to close down, but they will not make any difference," said Antonio Cresto, mayor of Pertusio.
"We provide a service for the population. Petrusio, my town has about 1,000 inhabitants and they are scattered all over the Alps in small communities. This will be destroying the service which we give these inhabitants," he said.
Some mayors are looking at novel ways to try and fight against the decree, one is trying to change his community into a principality, outside of Rome's jurisdication. And another has requested some 800 migrants in order to boost his town's population.
Close to 30 out of 110 provinces will be affected by the scheme if it is approved.
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