(Reuters) A man climbed on to a ledge on the dome of St Peter’s Basilica on Monday and unfurled a banner protesting against a “political horror show”, an apparent reference to Italy’s embattled coalition struggling with recession and high unemployment.
Identified by police as Marcello Di Finizio, the man unfurled a white banner reading, in English: “Stop this massacre! The political horror show is continuing.”
The black and red ink scrawl said in Italian: “Help us Pope Francis.” He also waved an Italian flag as he balanced precariously above a small window near the top of the 137-metre dome.
Italy is stuck in its longest recession since quarterly records began in 1970, and jobless rates are close to record highs. Support for the coalition government has fallen from 43% to 34% since it was cobbled together in April.
Di Finizio has staged similar protests on the dome. Last October he stayed there overnight with a banner criticising multinationals, Europe, and former prime minister Mario Monti.
Thousands of people protested in Rome on Saturday, urging the new prime minister, Enrico Letta, to focus on creating jobs. He is trying to hold together a between his centre-left Democratic party and the centre-right People of Freedom, led by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.