Italy Season of Strikes and Discontent

After the euphoria of an economic miracle, the party's over

Not since the 1970s had Italy been so gripped by labor strife and protest. From the Alps to the Mezzogiorno, Milan to Palermo, buses and trains came to a halt, airports shut down, and courts, banks and government offices closed as some 12 million workers last week staged a four-hour walkout. In the country's first general strike in three years, factory workers and police officers, teachers and students, white-collar workers and pensioners marched through city streets under banners demanding more money for health and education and less for defense.

The strike had been called by Italy's three big labor federations to...