The claim…is one of several assertions made by a former parliamentary official in Italy calling himself ‘Spider Truman’. A Facebook page he set up this week to protest against the lavish privileges enjoyed by Italian MPs – the highest paid in Europe – has attracted more than 350,000 followers.
The claims made in the Facebook page and a related blog have fuelled widespread indignation among Italians that their MPs continue to be handsomely rewarded when the rest of the country is being asked to tighten its belt, amid fears that Italy’s huge public debt and static growth render it vulnerable to a Greek-style meltdown.
The Italian parliament last week passed a 48 billion euro austerity package which hit families hard but failed to erode the privileges enjoyed by MPs, who have an average annual salary of 140,000 euros – nearly twice the amount earned by British MPs.
In his blog, called “The Secrets of the Caste“, Spider Truman claims that some of Italy’s 945 MPs and senators falsely report personal items such as laptop computers stolen and then claim for them through a parliamentary insurance scheme.
He also claimed that members of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies had sent themselves bogus death threats so that they could request an escort of armed bodyguards…
Italian MPs’ benefits include generous pensions, free flights and train travel and the use of a sports club on the banks of the River Tiber in Rome, complete with a swimming pool and tennis court.
They are entitled to subsidized haircuts from seven barbers working in the parliamentary hairdressers, as well as discounts on health care and complimentary theatre and cinema tickets.
They are chauffeured around in expensive Alfa Romeos and Maseratis with tinted windows, which are escorted by police motorcycle outriders and cut through traffic by attaching flashing blue lights to their roofs…
The issue has spread to other social networking sites, with some Italians comparing the gulf between the ruling classes and ordinary people to that of pre-revolutionary France.
But, then, Berlusconi has been telling the working class of Italy – “Let ’em eat cake” – for decades. If people are foolish enough to vote in a viagra-fortified fop for his football club, they get what they asked for.