The Question of the Middle Class

in Italian Politics
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In 2004, the beginning of the political year was marked by an intense

focus on the middle class. Even earlier, during the closing months

of the previous year, the public had been alerted to the middle class

as an issue by virtue of journalistic investigations documenting the

malaise of social groups, which, all things considered, had been supposed

to be in good or passable health up to that point. There was

talk of poverty among vulnerable sections of the population, but not

yet of the impoverishment of the middle classes. Whether or not the

middle class was indeed becoming poorer then became the main focus

of the discussion. In this chapter we shall try to see how the question

emerged, how far it corresponds with the facts, and, finally, its significance

for Italian politics. With this in mind, we shall be asking, in particular,

whether in future the crisis of the middle class is destined to be

an important topic and recognized as such in the political arena.