The misery caused by Italy's financial crisis could spark a "civil war" in the southern island of Sicily, the mayor of regional capital Palermo said on Friday.
"Because of an explosive mix of despair felt by many families and the stranglehold of organised crime, a civil war could even break out," mayor Leoluca Orlando told the economic daily Wirtschaftsblatt.
"Sicily is the Greece of Italy," said Orlando, a member of the anti-corruption Italy of Values party and a staunch anti-Mafia champion.
"We've managed to stay afloat only because we're a part of Italy," he added.
"Many businesses are shutting, families on low incomes can no longer pay their electricity bills," said Orlando, who has been mayor since May.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Mario Monti expressed concern that the region ran the risk of bankruptcy.
Sicily is in debt to the tune of five billion euros ($6.1 billion) and in the Sicilian capital Palermo, the deficit stands at 500 million euros.
Orland said he hoped the autumn regional elections would lead to change in the struggling region.
"It should mark the end of the politics that have led Sicily to the brink," he said.
He described the current political system there as corrupt and wasteful of public money.
Sicily was one of 23 Italian sub-sovereign entities that saw their rating downgraded on Monday by the Moody's rating agency.----
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