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Millions turn out to protest Italian education reform

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by AFP

Latest update : 2008-10-25

Italy's main opposition party estimates some 2.5 million people protested in Rome against the Silvio Berlusconi government and its proposals to reform the education system.

Italy's opposition staged a mass rally in Rome Saturday, claiming 2.5 million people had taken to the streets to protest against Silvio Berlusconi's right-wing government.
   
In a demonstration organised by Walter Veltroni's centre-left Democratic party (PD), left-wing activists marched to the Circus Maximus under a sea of red and green opposition flags proclaiming that "another Italy is possible."
   
Veltroni, whose PD is riding low in the polls after its defeat to Berlusconi's new conservative People of Freedom (PDL) in May, called the protest "the biggest in the last few years."
   
"From what I can see and from the information I am receiving, this is the biggest protest organised by a party in a number of years," said Veltroni at the rally.
   
"It is proof that democracy is alive and well... We could never have imagined such a large turnout," he added.
   
Although police has not verified the size of the protest, one demonstrator warned that the prime minister, who is also a large media mogul in Italy, could distort the figure.
   
"Even if we are one million people protesting today, Berlusconi will say there was only one hundred of us. And he will be able to do that because he controls so much of the media," said Livio Giorgi.
   
Another protester, Maria Turri who was demonstrating against the government's education policy, carried a placard saying: "Hello children... Your mother is protesting for you!"
   
"My children have no guarantees for the future. We do not want a US-style society where we cannot afford the schools. The government must invest more money into state schools instead of giving it to the banks," she told AFP.
   
The protest follows a similar demonstration by left-wing activists earlier this month against Berlusconi's conservative policies and his avoiding prosecution for alleged corruption.

Date created : 2008-10-25

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