As the temperature heats up in the Northern hemisphere's spring, so does the political temperature. Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy have all seen various protest movements over the past few months (or, in Italy's case, years).
And the numbers quickly explain why: youth unemployment in Spain, for example, hovers at about 50%, while in Italy conservative estimates put it at around a 30% national average, with the average in the South pushing 45%. In the meantime, I came across a startling figure a few days ago: after Berlusconi's legislation on illegally un-taxed offshore capital, 'recycled' money has become a major 'industry' in Italy, valued at around 10% of GDP. Ten percent. That, proportionally, is just below what the entire financial industry is worth in the UK.
The numbers for Italy just get worse: 25% are either poor or marginalised (the EU average is 23%, which is worrying in itself), and both North and South have taken a hit, with net losses of over 500,000 jobs in 2009-10, bringing the overall total of those who are either unemployed or not even looking for work anymore to over 4 million. Italian women are even worse off: only 46.1% of them have a job at all, and those who do have seen the gender pay gap rise to 20% (30% if you're an immigrant). It's no wonder then, that Italians' expectations are gloomy, with 62,5% of people seeing a future worse than the present (up 5% from January alone). Italians also think that it's better to emigrate than stay in Italy, with only people 23% believing that there are good job opportunities in Italy, and 28% satisfaction in the country's economy.