Today (October 5) 10,000 people, mainly youth, took part in an anti war demonstration called by the Florence Social Forum. This was part of a national day of action which saw over sixty demonstrations and cultural events taking place all over Italy. The demonstration takes place as Italy is preparing to send one thousand battle ready troops to Afghanistan. It is intended that the Italian troops will free up British troops who can be sent onto Iraq.
This development has split apart the centre left Olive Tree coalition with deputies voting on four separate motions in last Thursday’s debate on the issue. The centre Margherita (Daisy) party voted for the government motion, the Greens and Cossutta’s Italian Communists had their own motions and the Democrats of the Left (DS) were split between their own motion and some members supporting the Communist Refoundation (RC) motion. (The RC are outside the Olive Tree coalition).
Today’s protest was called by the Florence Social Forum as a beginning of a series of protests leading up to the European Social Forum in November. It will culminate in a manifestation on the ninth of November where up to three hundred thousand are expected to attend. Over the next five weeks the FSF will hold major demonstrations in each of the five districts of the city. Cultural activities and local assemblies are also planned to prepare the city for the forum. Next Thursday the social forum plans to march on the local US consulate.
Sarano Centini of the ESF explained: "We want to broaden the subject of the war to explain it is simply a tool of the new world order. Anti war is anti neo-liberalism. The Social Forum wants to bring the people opposing the war together in action and try and bring in the social and economic issues".
The march had the usual carnival like atmosphere with sound systems and bands leading the way. At least half of the protesters were made up of very radicalised secondary students who took the day off school to attend the protest. (Italians students attend school on Saturday morning). Also there in large numbers were workers of the unions of the base.
Italian public opinion is overwhelmingly opposed to the oncoming war. The vast majority have seen through government propaganda and recognise what this war is really about – oil. Today’s demonstrations are only the beginning of an anti war movement which will put even more pressure on Berlusconi and his reactionary coalition.