‘Rome is not for sale,’ declared the slogan that protestors paraded in a march Saturday against the privatisation of the Italian capital’s water company.
The right wing administration of mayor Gianni Alemanno plans to sell a 21% of the current 51% majority stake held by the public authorities in ACEA, the local water company, with minority private shareholders including French multi-national utility company GDF Suez (with a 12.5% stake) potentially grabbing control.
In a nationwide referendum in June 2011, 96% of Italians who voted, or 26 million (turn-out was 57%) said they rejected the privatisation of water. In Rome, 1.2 million people voted against.
“The sale – said the organisers ahead of of Saturday’s protest – is not only unnecessary but also bad and inappropriate economically and politically. It will also lead to a weakening of our municipal heritage and a collective good. Finally, it is a slap in the face of the results of the referendum of 2011.’
The march started from Piazza Vittorio at 3pm and arrived in Piazza Santi Apostoli, along via Cavour, Via dei Fori Imperiali, Piazza Venezia.
Several political parties joined the procession and attended a the rally in the square in central Rome.
Speaking ahead of the protest, the Left Ecology Freedom party’s Filiberto Zaratti recalled that in a referendum last June ‘more than a million Romans decided that the management of public goods, like water, must remain public.’
For Claudio Bucci, a regional councillor for Italy of Values, which claims to have been one of the major promoters of the referendum, ‘the sale of shares in ACEA is a fraud against the citizens.’
The chairman of the Greens in the Lazio region Nando Bonessio said: ‘From proposals to impose a tax on homes to the privatization of Acea, the citizens are facing attack. Another Rome is possible. The Greens will be in the streets.’
Trade unions and a range of civic society organisations were among the organisers of the protest.
The revelation that the managing director of ACEA earns €750,000 a year has further angered opponents of the privatisation bid.
Story updated 7.5.2012