Scuffles erupt at anti-government protest in Italy’s Florence
Police have clashed with demonstrators who had taken to the streets of the Italian city of Florence to express their opposition to an upcoming constitutional referendum.
Saturday’s clashes came after the protesters tried to reach a building where Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was attending his Democratic Party’s annual convention called “Leopolda.”
Police used shields to block the demonstrators’ way into the premises, with TV pictures showing baton-wielding officers charging hundreds of protesters who threw stones, smoke bombs and firecrackers.
One policeman was injured in the leg during the scuffles, apparently from a firecracker, local media reported.
The demonstrators were holding placards and banners, reading, “No to Leopolda, no to monster of Florence,” referring to Renzi.
Renzi has called for a referendum on December 4 on his proposed changes to the constitution that will reduce the role of the Senate and rein in the powers of regional governments.
He argues that the reforms will increase political stability in the European country. However, opponents fear that the constitutional changes will lead to an excessive centralization of power.
Opinion polls also show that the Italian premier may lose the vote, although a large number of voters are still undecided.
Renzi has vowed to step down and never return to politics if the voters turn down his plans.