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

  • Written by Zero Hedge
  • Published in Economics

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.

Italy

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.

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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...

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