Italy's PD pledges 'dowry' for young people in election manifesto

Enrico Letta, the head of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), gestures during an interview with Reuters about the forthcoming national election that was called after the surprise collapse of Mario Draghi's unity government, in Rome, Italy, July 25, 2022. REUTERS/Remo Casilli/File Photo
  • PD programme also promises gay marriage, higher salaries
  • Party faces uphill struggle to prevent victory for right

ROME, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Italy's centre-left Democratic Party (PD) will offer teenagers a "dowry" of up to 10,000 euros ($10,035) when they turn 18, the party said in its manifesto made public on Friday ahead of next month's election, perhaps the most eye-catching promise in a 37-page programme.

The PD faces an arduous task of preventing a rightist victory at the Sept. 25 ballot. Its manifesto contains big pledges such as offering workers the equivalent of an extra month's salary and building 500,000 homes in a social housing programme.

"Young people are the engine of Italy's future," the party's leader Enrico Letta tweeted on Friday alongside a list of promises aimed at attracting young voters.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Letta said the so-called dowry was aimed at helping young people fund further education, pay for accommodation or launch a career in a country where most welfare benefits have been directed at pensions.

The party also proposed a state guarantee on mortgages for first-time house buyers, a 2,000 euro contribution for students to pay their rent, and a reduction in the voting age to 16 from 18 at present.

The PD is polling at around 23%, just behind Giorgia Meloni's rightist Brothers of Italy which dominates a conservative coalition including Matteo Salvini's League and former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia.

DISUNITY ON LEFT

However, whereas the right is presenting a united front at the election, left-leaning and centrist parties have failed to join forces, drastically reducing their chances of success.

A study last week based on the latest polls showed the right is on track to win a broad majority in both houses of parliament. read more

While the right's programme presented last week centred on tax cuts and curbs to immigration read more , the PD focuses on increasing welfare benefits and civil rights.

"We want to increase net salaries by (the equivalent of) an extra month" per year, the programme said. This would be done by the state paying welfare contributions now charged to workers, with the scheme funded through a crackdown on tax evasion.

The PD also pledged to introduce a minimum wage and pass a labour reform similar to one adopted in Spain, which would reduce the scope for temporary contracts.

In terms of civil rights, the programme vows to make it easier for the children of immigrants to obtain Italian citizenship, and to pass a law toughening penalties for violence or discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

This is a long-standing PD proposal which is fiercely contested by the right.

It also promises to introduce gay marriages to replace or flank the "civil unions" currently available in Italy, which do not offer the same parental rights as heterosexual marriages.

($1 = 0.9962 euros)

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
Reporting By Gavin Jones; Editing by Josie Kao

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.