The Italian Almanac



Civil Service Minister Renato Brunetta was under a deluge of friendly and enemy fire for suggesting that the government approve a law forcing anyone who was over 18 and still living at home to leave the nest. Brunetta's proposal was even clubbed down by other cabinet members, including Simplification Minister Roberto Calderoli, who quipped that his colleague had "overshot the mark this time".

The minister, a controversial figure who is nevertheless popular with a large number of Italians after a successful campaign to weed out slackers in the civil service, said he blamed parents for turning their offspring into "bamboccioni" or "big babies". Brunetta's stance echoed remarks in 2007 by former finance minister Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa that the then-centre government was planning a budget measure to "get these big babies out the home".

Education Minister Mariastella Gelmini, who generally shies away from polemics but may have been prompted to weigh into this one because she is expecting her first baby, said youngsters "have problems finding jobs, let alone a house of their own and don't deserve to be defined bamboccioni". Giuliana Carlino, a senator with the opposition Italy of Values (IdV) party said Brunetta's tirade against youngsters was nothing to joke about and was wholly "misplaced during a period of economic crisis". The Association of Marriage lawyers Ami said Brunetta's suggestion was "out of sync with real life in Italy" because it failed to take account of youngsters' opportunity to find jobs.

Northern League leader Umberto Bossi initially made a timid effort to defend Brunetta amid the hullabaloo, saying the minister had "just made a quip". When told that Brunetta was indeed serious, Bossi said the government should not interfere in private family issues. "I've got three children and though I know that sooner or later they will leave home, I'll be sad when they decide to do," explained Bossi who once said he would give his oldest son Riccardo a good kick in the backside if he accepted an offer to appear on the reality show L'Isola dei Famosi ('Celebrity Island').