Demonstrators carry a banner reading “Communists” during the left-wing Italian metalworkers’ union FIOM rally in downtown Rome on May 18, 2013 (AFP Photo / Filippo Monteforte)
Thousands of people gathered in Rome on Saturday to protest austerity measures and high unemployment. Demonstrators urged Prime Minister Enrico Letta to create jobs in order to pull the country out of recession.
Protesters held banners which read,

“We can’t wait anymore” and “We need money to live.”

“We hope that this government will finally start listening to us because we are losing our patience,”

protester Enzo Bernardis told Reuters.

Letta promised to make jobs his top priority when he assumed office in April. Demonstrators accused him of not sticking to his vow, instead choosing to focus on a property tax reform outlined this week.

Union leaders said they want a fresh agenda, and urged Letta to shift away from the austerity plan pursued by former Prime Minister Mario Monti, who introduced a range of spending cuts, tax hikes, and pension reforms during his

“We need to start over with more investment. If we don’t restart with public and private investments, there will no new jobs,”

said Maurizio Landini, secretary-general of the left-wing metalworkers union Fiom.

But other protesters didn’t believe Letta’s government was capable of changing the country’s economic track.

“This government will last a very short time,” 

said demonstrator Marco Silvani.

“What we need is a new leftist party that fights for the rights of the people.”

According to a Friday poll conducted by the SWG institute, the government’s approval rating has dropped to 34 per cent from 43 per cent at the start of May.

Italy is in the midst of its longest recession since quarterly records began in 1970. Jobless rates are close to record highs, with youth unemployment hovering around 38 per cent.

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