Italian campaign promises gloss over grim economic realities

While Italy's economic growth has picked up this year, it belies grim realities below the surface, few of which are being addressed directly as politicians stump for a national ballot on March 4.

The economy is forecast to grow by a decent rate of 1.5 percent this year, but that still lags the wider eurozone's estimated 2 percent. The economy is smaller than it was at the start of the economic downturn in 2008, unemployment remains at a high 10.8 percent and wage growth is below 1 percent. Household savings, long held as the counterweight to Italy's enormous government debt, have dwindled.

Jack Allen, an analyst at Capital Economics says: "None of the parties seem likely to address some of the major underlying sources of Italy's economic weakness."