"Italy Is Collapsing...And 5 Star Is Our Last Hope": How Young Italians Fueled A Populist Uprising

Unlike in the US, where President Trump relies on older Americans for his base of support, more than half (53%) of Italians under 35 voted for one of the two anti-establishment parties that triumphed in Italy's March election. Their enthusiastic support explains the outpouring of anger directed at technocratic Italian President Sergio Mattarella, who called for new elections as he seemingly reached for every conceivable excuse to try and stop the two parties from forming a government, before finally acquiescing.

Young Italians have grown disillusioned with the center-left - which has clung to a status quo that deliberately favors older workers - even as their counterparts in Greece and Spain have moved even further to the left, with 40% of Spaniards under 35 saying in a recent poll that they favor the far-left Podemos and its allies, while in Greece, 41% of people aged 18 to 24 voted for Syriza in the 2015 election that brought the far-left party to power, according to the Wall Street Journal, which recently published a long-winded feature about the political plight of restive Italian youth.


Giada Gramanzini, a 29-year-old Italian university graduate who has struggled to find permanent work

Young Italians, like young people in much of the Western developed nations that comprise the EU, are convinced that they will lead lives fraught with economic turbulence, and that few in their generation will manage to achieve the same standard of living that their parents enjoyed. The marriage rate in Italy has fallen by a fifth over the past decade, according to Istat. In 2016, the last year for which data are available, Italian men got married on average at age 35 and women at 32 - two years later than in 2008. Meanwhile, the birth rate in a country that's viewed as the cradle of conserative Catholicism has fallen to an all-time low.


Of the many statistics that point to an intractable economic malaise, the youth unemployment rate is particularly troubling: Nearly 30% of Italians aged 20 to 34 aren't working, studying or enrolled in a training program, according to Eurostat. This comes after the employment rate for Italians under 40 fell every year between 2007 and 2014, before flatlining for three years. That's higher than any other EU member state - including Greece, which is sporting youth unemployment of 29% - the second highest - as well as Spain's 21%.

"Italy is collapsing and yet nothing has changed in this country for at least 30 years," said Carlo Gaetani, a self-employed engineer in Puglia. Ten years ago, when he was in his early 20s, he voted for a center-left party that he hoped would push for economic development in southern Italy. When Italy descended into a crippling recession, he felt betrayed by the traditional Italian left-wing parties. He has seen friends struggle to find jobs, and said his own business opportunities are limited to the stagnant private sector, because commissions for the public sector are usually awarded to people with connections he doesn’t have.

Mr. Gaetani, now 33, voted for 5 Star in the 2013 election, a choice he repeated in March with more conviction. "5 Star is our last hope. If they also fail, I think I’ll stop voting," he said.

Luckily, the older generation is well-equipped to step in and provide a modicum of financial support, thanks to generous pension benefits that have accrued to older workers. Yet this has done little to assuage the anger of young Italians, as the number of Italians under 34 living in dire poverty (aka those who can't afford even basic goods and services) has more than doubled in the aftermath of the crisis.

The pain in southern Europe reflects a feeling across much of the Western world that the younger generation will struggle to surpass their parents in wealth and security. Half of Italians who responded last year to an online survey on jobs site Monster.com said they thought they will earn less over their careers than their parents.

Young Italians, who bore the brunt of the country’s protracted, triple-dip recession, still bear the scars that will affect their career prospects, homeownership and birthrates for decades to come.

While they share many similar characteristics, the problems in Italy are fundamentally different than in the US. Perhaps the biggest issue for young people is a labor system where people with open-ended employment contracts enjoy unassailable job security and access to benefits. Meanwhile, younger employees are getting stuck with short-term contracts generally lasting from one month to one year that carry few benefits and make it impossible to plan for the future.


The Italian government introduced these short-term contracts in the 1990s to help young people enter the labor force. Italy recently adopted a revamp of its labor laws, using tax breaks to coax companies into using more open-ended contracts - which allow firms to avoid the great hassle and cost involved in firing employees. But these policies generally haven't worked, and both the Five Star Movement and the League have capitalized on the anger at existing labor policies by promising to undo the government's reforms, while Five Star has also advocated giving the poor and unemployed a UBI of 780 euros (roughly $900) a month.

The 5 Star Movement has lured millions of young voters with promises to roll back new labor rules, give the unemployed and poor a so-called universal basic income of €780 ($905) a month, and abolish unpaid apprenticeship contracts. Its leader, Luigi Di Maio, was a 26-year-old university dropout who lived with his parents when he was elected to parliament in 2013. Today, he is a deputy prime minister.

The League attracted a sizable portion of the youth vote by advocating for many of the same anti-establishment policies that Five Star embraced - such as canceling the country's recent labor reforms - while also calling for deportations of African migrants who have overwhelmed Italy's borders in recent years.

Italy’s economic problems played into young voters’ sentiments about immigration during the campaign as well, one of the animating drivers of support for the League. “We can’t host all of Africa,” said Gianluca Taburchi, a 23-year old supermarket employee from Perugia who voted for the League. “We already have our own problems. We have lots of unemployment and unsecure jobs.”

Matteo Salvini, the leader of the League who became a deputy prime minister and interior minister in the new government, promised to return hundreds of thousands of migrants to their countries of origin. 5 Star, which straddles the line on many issues, spoke of stemming illegal immigration, but stopped short of calling for mass deportations.

Now that they've found their way into power, the future of these euroskeptic parties will depend on whether they keep their promises. Instituting labor-market, welfare and immigration reforms is only one part of the problem. Many younger Italians are deeply distrustful of both the European Union and the euro currency - while many older Italians still view both projects as integral to maintaining a sense of European Unity and lasting peace on the continent.


Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, flanked by Five Star Leader Luigi Di Maio and The League leader Matteo Salvini

Both The League and Five Star's controversial flirtations with abolishing the euro (League leader Matteo Salvini was reportedly photographed wearing a T-shirt reading "Basta euro" - or "enough with the euro - to the chagrin of many older voters) have been popular with their base. But when directly confronted about their stance on leaving the euro, they've been noncommittal. The question now is: Will the Five Star and the League allow voters a chance to speak on the possibility of an "Italexit", as the analysts on Wall Street have taken to calling an Italian departure from the European Union? Or will they stop short of threatening an orthodoxy that a growing number of Italian young people view as the root cause for their economic suffering?


Heros Wed, 06/20/2018 - 02:50 Permalink

Italy has been owned by freemasons since it was created in 1861.  The only way for them to escape is to break the entire masonic prison down.

giovanni_f The_Dude Wed, 06/20/2018 - 06:11 Permalink

last time Italy has been ruled capably was under the romans, diokletian comes to my mind as probably the last capable emperor. later, in the middle ages, the german kaisers did a good job but they have been eliminated by an alliance of the church, the corruptest parts of the Italian city-oligarchies in and the already at that time corruptest bunch of all, the french. from the middle age onwards Italy has been an asset for foreign forces, anticipating the destiny whole europe is now facing.

In reply to by The_Dude

EddieLomax gregga777 Wed, 06/20/2018 - 05:00 Permalink

Siberia is empty for a good reason - uninhabitable.

But Wyoming is intriguing, the question is, is that land being used?

My guess is yes and its for food production, looking at the rest of the US and its like a giant city.  The fact is the US produces a surplus of food for the world, remove that farmland and we are screwed.

In reply to by gregga777

gregga777 Herodotus Wed, 06/20/2018 - 08:18 Permalink

Most of Wyoming is an arid region; much of it is outright desert.  About the only thing you can grow there is sagebrush.

Really!  Big fucking surprise to all those pronghorn antelopes that are always getting splattered by 18-wheelers on the Interstate. But, thanks. I'll let them know. Them and all the fucking horses and cattle, too. Im sure that they'll appreciate the information so they can all move to Montana. 

In reply to by Herodotus

JerseyJoe halcyon Wed, 06/20/2018 - 06:00 Permalink

Actually, I think it is the opposite.  Mobile people - like refugees can be dangerous for politicians...they want docile tax cows in their milking stalls where they can tax the crap out of us.  

My real estate taxes in NJ went from $1900 per year to over $14,000 (and my uncollected liability for unpaid pensions also blew through the roof!) by the time I left.   Every fucking year they sucked more blood and got deeper into debt along the way.  And there was absolutely nothing I could do but move - before the tipping point when there are no suckers willing to move into your stall and be milked. 

And BTW We ain't seen nothing yet...remember Detroit.  Everyone knew where it was heading... Demo-ratholes led by that rat-faced asshole Paulie Krudman.  The Nobel Prize winner for spewing the bullshit the Marxist-socialists need to fuel their utopian debt laden fantasies.

Oceania has always been in debt... 


In reply to by halcyon

techpriest I am Groot Wed, 06/20/2018 - 07:00 Permalink

Escrava Asked for a ~85% reduction in the population, and no method is better at mass murder and mass starvation than socialism.

Personally I think the answer is to remove the DC-Wall Street I-95 corridor. It can be its own country, and we have strict immigration controls to prevent the corridor people from immigrating into the rest of the nation.

Given how that area runs itself, and given that they can no longer live as parasites on the rest of the nation, I think that depopulation will be achieved very quickly there.

In reply to by I am Groot

The Ram techpriest Wed, 06/20/2018 - 08:42 Permalink

Very much agree on the NY-DC 95 corridor.  I lived and worked there for many years.  The government/military/financial people there live in a very closed world of delusion.  In fact, most are not aware that they are parasites on the rest of the US and the world.  Fortunately, forces are at work to break the influence of the corridor.  They no longer have a monopoly on information and technology.  The more they try to control the forces of nature and information distribution, the more they will fail.  All empires fail at some point.

In reply to by techpriest

The Ram Escrava Isaura Wed, 06/20/2018 - 08:35 Permalink

You hit a key point that most people miss: way too many people on the planet for the age that we live in.  I have read stupid things like all 7 billion people could fit into the state of Texas with .5 acre/person or something ridiculous.  This type of thinking misses the point.  What determines the carrying capacity of the world is technology more than 'space.'  If we lived in a hunter gatherer society, 7 billion people may be possible because physical labor is needed in mass quantity and physical labor is valued.  In a post industrial-Information age society, 'capital' is valued and physical labor devalued (Marx was correct about this).  We just don't need all the bodies today, and no, making everyone a programmer would not help at all, just create vastly lower wages for programmers.  So, just as the population vastly increased in the 1900's (the population doubled twice), I suspect in the next 100 years, we could see a vast decrease in population.  

In reply to by Escrava Isaura

perikleous Four Star Wed, 06/20/2018 - 07:21 Permalink

They (EU leaders) are no longer worried about the PIIGS voting to leave the EU.

Because the EU has a new method to keep the poorest members voting to REMAIN!

They have implemented a welfare system about 200 Euros per month (100 debit card/100 EURO in bank acct) to the unemployed.. This will keep that group of people voting there way in order to continue getting there free money!

 Greece is a perfect example, the 200 euro does not come from Greek Gov, its Eurozone welfare, so if you vote to leave(a populist govt) you are voting to give up your welfare!


people complain to throw out the migrants but clearly they want them to lower labor costs, same jobs getting done for less... Just like Saudi Arabia does it!

 They are trying to compete with China on products made in the EU...

Capitalism is not the issue throughout the western world, its that capitalism must work hand in glove with true democracy... We are no longer even faking being a democracy so capitalism nolonger has checks and balances (greed/bribery "lobbying" buying politicians "money is freedom of speech" congress not having to disclose there stock holdings"bribed with stocks that will skyrocket when they vote certain ways" )this is criminal and being run by tyrants that have basically surpassed hitlers wildest dreams..  Until the world wakes up to reality and stands up to the criminals by mass protests we are basically living in open air prisons being poisoned by our food/forced addictions (pharmaceuticals) abused by gov/police !!!! Just as HITLER did without the gas chambers... WAKE UP PEOPLE

In reply to by Four Star

iLLivaniLLi19 perikleous Wed, 06/20/2018 - 10:23 Permalink

greed/bribery "lobbying" buying politicians "money is freedom of speech

I generally agree with your whole comment but if one is not free to spend their money how they please then it's not money, it's currency. Currency is regulated money.


Credit existed before money (quid pro quo); and then money was invented to address the inefficiency and corruption of that system, resulting in capitalism.


Anyone who argues against money as speech, is arguing against money and arguing for currency. All the while Credit (quid pro quo corruption) has and will continue to exist. "Money out of politics" is a left-wing clarion call for a very good reason, it's anti-capitalist in nature. The right should be saying, "Get currency out of politics" because that is the essence of regulated politics whereas money in politics is an expression of someone willing to put real value in politics (which is the essence of capitalism).


All that said, the USD is currency and we should get USD out of politics.

In reply to by perikleous