Out of pocket, Italians fall out of love with the euro
By Gavin Jones
ROME (Reuters) - When the Italian central bank's deputy governor joined a radio phone-in show last week, many callers asked why Italy didn't ditch the euro and return to its old lira currency.
A few years ago such a scenario, that Salvatore Rossi said would lead to "catastrophe and disaster", would not have been up for public discussion.
Now, with the possibility of an election by June, politicians of all stripes are tapping into growing hostility towards the euro. Many Italians hold the single currency responsible for economic decline since its launch in 1999.
"We lived much better before the euro," says Luca Fioravanti, a 32-year-old real estate surveyor from Rome. "Prices have gone up but our salaries have stayed the same, we need to get out and go back to our own sovereign currency."
The central bank is concerned about the rise in anti-euro sentiment, and a Bank of Italy source told Reuters Rossi's appearance is part of a plan to reach out to ordinary Italians.
Few Italians want to leave the European Union, as Britain chose to do in its referendum last year. Italy was a founding EU member in 1957 and Italians think it has helped maintain peace and stability in Europe.
And the ruling Democratic Party (PD) is pro-euro and wants more European integration though it complains that the fiscal rules governing the euro are too rigid.
But the three other largest parties are hostile, in various degrees, to Italy's membership of the single currency in its current form. Continued...