Sunday, 26 December 2010

Italian Students Revive Giuseppe Garibaldi


(Giuseppe Garibaldi - Leghorn)

[Edoardo Montenegro, Turin] - While Italian Government found it hard to pass the Reform of University at the Senate (1), Italian students protesting against it were able to puzzle the media, proving to be politically intelligent (2).

Maurizio Gasparri, President of Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom Party at the Senate, had previously declared that the most frantic students should be pre-emptively arrested (3), actually tracing out the law issued by the Fascist Regime of Benito Mussolini in 1926 (4).

According to the proposal, an Italian citizen determined to take part in a protest march might indeed be sentenced up to three years of imprisonment and would pay a fine up to € 40,000 (5).

In spite of any provocation, on Wednesday a peaceful, cheerful and imaginative protest took place all over the country, even if fights with the police flare up in Palermo (6).

In Rome, students avoided the 'red zone' in the inner city, marched through the suburbs with citizens cheering them from the balconies and moved on the highway towards L'Aquila, the city struck by an earthquake on 2009 and still inaccessible (7).

In Turin they dressed up like Giuseppe Garibaldi, the hero who unified the country in 1860, entered the Carignano Palace which was supposed to host the Italian Parliament before the capital moved to Rome and simbolically proclaimed their own counter-reform of University (8).

In Milan they blocked the traffic to read the Constitution, while in Naples they blocked the main railway station (9). At the end of the day, the President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano granted audience to a delegation of students, explaining that the country has the duty to listen to their opinions (10).

Even though the Italian Senate approved the reform on Thursday (11), the movement of Italian students now looks stronger than ever.

__________

(1) "Bagarre al Senato: la leghista Rosi Mauro perde il controllo, Schifani fa rivotare gli emendamenti approvati", ilmessaggero.it, December 22nd 2010.

(2) Giuseppe D'Avanzo, "La normalità e la patologia", repubblica.it, December 23rd 2010.
 
(3) James Mackenzie, "Italian minister appeals for calm before protest", newsdaily.com, December 20th 2010.

(4) Giuseppe D'Avanzo, "Diritto di polizia", repubblica.it, December 20th 2010.
 
(5) Luigi Ferrarella, "Poteri dello Stato. Il cortocircuito", corriere.it, December 20th 2010.

(6) Guy Dinmore, "Berlusconi's woes mount as protests gather pace", ft.com, December 22rd 2010.

(7) Paolo Gallori, "Roma invasa dai cortei. Protesta pacifica, con ironia", repubblica.it, December 22nd 2010.

(8) Ottavia Giustetti and Alessandro Contaldo, "Studenti in corteo come Garibaldini", repubblica.it, December 22nd 2010.

(9) "Milano, gli studenti bloccano il traffico e leggono la Costituzione nelle strade", repubblica.it, December 22nd 2010 and "Corteo degli studenti a Napoli. Occupati i binari della Stazione centrale", ilmattino.it, December 22nd 2010.

(10) Mario Calabresi, "Napolitano: 'Diamo risposte a una generazione inascoltata'", lastampa.it, December 24th 2010.

(11) Eugenio Bruno, "In porto la riforma degli atenei", ilsole24ore.com, December 24th 2010.





{paulginz, "'Democracy' in Italy: 17 motions on university reform in 3 min", reddit.com, December 22nd 2010: 

Context

The Italian Senate is voting on amendments to the controversial reform of universities. This reform is causing huge student protests. Rosi Mauro [Vice-Presidentess of the Senate, pictured, from the secessionist party "Lega Padana"] is chairing the vote.

Translation

I'm putting to a vote the amendment 6.21. Who's in favour? Who's opposed? Who abstains? It's approved. 6.303. Who's in favour? Who's opposed? It's approved. 6.23. Who's in favour? Who's opposed? It's approved.

Please, colleagues. The presidency [of the senate] has expressed itself, and expressed itself very clearly. I'll continue with the voting. I'll continue. I'll continue with the voting. No, I'll continue with the voting. The presidency has expressed itself; I said that president Schifani [of the Senate] has been informed. Let's continue, let's continue with the voting.

6.304 is inadmissible. 6.305 is inadmissible. 6.306 No [inaudible] 6.306 is inadmissible. 6.307, motion to oppose. Who's in favour? Who's opposed? Who abstains? It's not approved. 6.24 Who's in favour? Who's opposed? Who abstains? It's not approved. 6.308 Who's in favour? Who's opposed? Who abstains? It's not approved.

Please, the presidency has expressed itself. I'll go on with the voting. I'll go on. [You] also [need to have] respect for the Presidency. I gave you an answer. (x2). You should be ashamed of yourselves.
6.26 motion to oppose. Who's in favour? Who's opposed? Who abstains? It's approved. [She got confused and aproved an amendment she didn't want to]. 6.309 Who's in favour? Who's opposed? It's not approved. 6.27 Who's in favour? Who's opposed? Who abstains? It's not approved. [... same thing for 6.28, 6.29, 6.30 and 6.31]. Bravo, bravo, bravo! [/sarcastic] The Presidency has expressed itself.
6.310 who's in favour? Who's opposed? It's not approved.

Colleagues, good, at this point I call 10min recess. [rings bell] We're in recess.}


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Sunday, 19 December 2010

Committee of National Liberation Wanted


(modenaroid, Videocracy 2)

[Edoardo Montenegro, Turin] - On Tuesday, December 14th, Silvio Berlusconi survived a dramatic 314 to 311 no confidence vote at the Lower House of Italian Parliament (1).

Tensions rose between opponent fields, the opposition accusing Silvio Berlusconi of having allegedly bought the support of several lawmakers by paying their debts or granting them consistent future incomes (2).

While lawmakers broiled at the Parliament, violence spread in the streets of Rome, where the peaceful protest of Italian students was upset by small groups of masked protesters: 40 people were hurt and 41 were pulled in by the police, which reported 57 officers injured (3).

Gianfranco Fini lost his parliamentary battle: the Lower House speaker, one of Silvio Berlusconi's closest ally for sixteen years, had recently left the ruling coalition along with 30 lawmakers, accusing the Italian Prime Minister to hold power for the sole purpose to defend himself from Justice (4).

His defeat, however, has not made Silvio Berlusconi stronger.

While the Prime Minister is now looking for more invidual lawmakers willing to strengthen his thin majority (5), his main Center-Right opponents - Gianfranco Fini, Pier Ferdinando Casini and Francesco Rutelli - presented a new alliance aimed at replacing his leadership (6).

The battle is over, but war begins.

First: you cannot rule over a € 1,800 bn public debt with a majority of three lawmakers in the Parliament (7).

Second: Silvio Berlusconi walks on the crutches of the Northern League, the xenophobic party led by Umberto Bossi which might benefit most from early elections (8).

Third: even if it is far from finding a common ground to challenge Silvio Berlusconi (9), the Italian Left might soon be forced to close ranks by the prospect of early elections.

How to turn a despotic oligarchy, where lawmakers represent nothing but themselves (10), in a modern democracy?

__________

(1) Gian Antonio Stella, "Nell'arena di Montecitorio", corriere.it, December 15th 2010.

(2) Massimo Giannini, "Scandalo in Parlamento", repubblica.it, December 11th 2010.

(3) Rachel Donadio, "Berlusconi Survives Confidence Vote", nytimes.com, December 15th 2010.

(4) Guy Dinmore, "Berlusconi under attack before confidence vote", ft.com, December 13th 2010.

(5) Maurizio Belpietro, "'Gli sfilerò un deputato alla volta'", interview with Silvio Berlusconi, Libero, December 16th 2010.

(6) Massimo Giannini, "La Bastiglia del Cavaliere", repubblica.it, December 16th 2010.

(7) Guy Dinmore, "Roman showdown", ft.com, December 13th 2010.

(8) Alessandra Galloni, "An Italian Fringe Firebrand Gains Votes, Power in Crisis", online.wsj.com, December 14th 2010.

(9) Federico Geremicca, "A Sinistra la resa dei conti", lastampa.it, December 15th 2010.

(10) Ilvo Diamanti, "La democrazia dell'irresponsabilità", repubblica.it, December 13th 2010.

 


Related articles in English:
  • Guy Dinmore, "Italy faces prolonged political uncertainty", ft.com, December 14th 2010
  • Guy Dinmore, "Berlusconi appeals to moderates to save him", ft.com, December 14th 2010
  • Stacy Meichtry, "Italy's Berlusconi faces major test", online.wsj.com, December 14th 2010
  • Francesca Angelini, "Italy's students fight change", online.wsj.com, December 14th 2010
  • Michael Stothard, "Italy rallies after Berlusconi survives vote", ft.com, December 14th 2010
  • Guy Dinmore, "Berlusconi clings on to power after vote", ft.com, December 15th 2010
  • Guy Dinmore, "Italy's bruised politicians set for new battle", ft.com, December 14th 2010
  • Guy Dinmore, "'Third pole' to challange Berlusconi", ft.com, December 16th 2010

Related articles in Italian:
  • Curzio Maltese, "Il presepe del Cavaliere", repubblica.it, December 14th 2010
  • Barbara Spinelli, "Il profeta delle illusioni", repubblica.it, December 15th 2010
  • Ezio Mauro, "La partita comincia ora", repubblica.it, December 15th 2010
  • Francesco Verderami, "Sulle elezioni anticipate si rovesciano i ruoli", corriere.it, December 15th 2010
  • Marcello Sorgi, "A destra vento di elezioni", lastampa.it, December 15th 2010
  • Mario Calabresi, "Il muro tra politica e Paese", lastampa.it, December 15th 2010
  • Marzio Breda, "Il pressing di Napolitano per l'impegno del governo", corriere.it, December 16th 2010
  • Gian Guido Vecchi, "Cei soddisfatta per la fiducia: 'C'è voglia di governabilità'", corriere.it, December 16th 2010

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    Sunday, 12 December 2010

    Germany, Europe and the Lame Duck Syndrome



    [Edoardo Montenegro, Turin] - Germany, with the support of France, is ready to reject the creation of European Sovereign Bonds at the European Council meeting in Brussels next week (1).

    Jean-Claude Juncker and Giulio Tremonti proposed e-bonds issued by a European Debt Agency to ensure the EU a liquid bond market and save member states in risk of default. The EDA would gradually control paper for as much as 40% of the EU GDP (2).


    Germany does not accept to merge European public debts on grounds that German citizens would pay for other countries' debts (3). Helmut Schmidt, former German chancellor, accused Angela Merkel not to understand European economy and the Bundesbank to be reactionary (4).

    On the one hand, there is no doubt that Germany is the country which gained more from the Euro (5). On the other hand, however, many observers - as the Governor of the Bank of Italy Mario Draghi - believe that single countries can survive debt crisis without external help (6).

    The European Central Bank, in the meantime, is buying Portuguese and Irish bonds in order to defend the Euro; but President Trichet is aware politicians have to reform the system as soon as possible, otherwise the indipendence of the ECB would be at risk (7). As outlined by the former Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, "A common currency and single national economic policies cannot coexist" (8).

    The Euro seems still to be safe.

    The problem is that while Germany is asking to cut deficits, keep the euro exchange rate high and fight inflation, other countries probably believe that growth might be led by the devaluation of Euro and a larger - even if controlled - inflation rate.

    Germany should not reject e-bonds, but take the lead of the EU and pretend more warranties to create them.


     

    __________
    (1) Peter Spiegel and Quentin Peel, "Merkel rejects debt crisis proposals", ft.com, December 7th 2010.

    (2) Jean-Claude Juncker and Giulio Tremonti, "E-bond would  end the crisis", ft.com, December 6th 2010. A large synthesis article is also available in Italian: Jean-Claude Juncker and Giulio Tremonti, "Tremonti e Juncker: e-bonds per affermare l'irreversibilità dell'euro", ilsole24ore.com, December 7th 2010.

    Jean-Claude Juncker is Prime Minister and Treasury Minister of Luxembourg, while Giulio Tremonti is the Italian Minister of Economy and Finance.

    The idea of Euopean Sovereign Bonds was launched in 1993 by the European Commission President Jacques Delors and later by one of his successors, the Italian Romano Prodi, and by Giulio Tremonti itself, as a mean to finance public works in Europe. Recently, it was the former European Commissioner for Competition Mario Monti who proposed this solution to the European Commission President José Manuel Barroso in order to help European countries in risk of default.

    (3) Danilo Taino, "La Germania scommete sull'euro: 'Chi vuole il crollo, si romperà la testa'", corriere.it, December 10th 2010.

    (4) Andrea Tarquini, "Schmidt attacca Merkel e Buba: "Incompetenti e reazionari", repubblica.it, December 8th 2010.

    Helmut Schimdt, as well as French Valery Giscard-d'Estaing, is considered the father of the European Monetary System, which made it possible to launch the Euro. Angela Merkel is the current Chancellor and Prime Minister of Germany.

    (5) Vincenzo Visco, "La sfida tedesca all'eurobond", repubblica.it, December 9th 2010.

    (6) Ralph Atkins, Lionel Barber and Tony Barber, "Interview with Mario Draghi: Action on the addicts", ft.com, December 10th 2010. This article is also available in Italian: Ralph Atkins, Lionel Barber and Tony Barber, "Intervista a Mario Draghi: l'euro non si tocca ma l'acquisto di bond può minare l'autonomia della BCE", ilsole24ore.com, December 10th 2010.

    (7) Ralph Atkins, "Game far from over as Trichet presses for eurozone unity", ft.com, December 7th 2010.

    (8) Massimo Giannini, "I 90 anni di Ciampi: 'La politica ha perso il rispetto delle istituzioni'", repubblica.it, December 8th 2010.


    Related articles in English:

    • Paul Krugman, "Freezing out hope", The International Herald Tribune, December 4th 2010
    • Ralph Atkins, Quentin Peel and Josh Chaffin, "Europe's leaders at odds over bond plan", ft.com, December 6th 2010
    • Guy Dinmore, "Draghi says Italy needs faster growth to pay back debts", ft.com, December 7th 2010
    • Peter Spiegel, "IMF calls for 'comprehensive' euro solution", ft.com, December 8th 2010
    • Martin Wolf, "Is there the will to save the eurozone?", ft.com, December 8th 2010
    • Moisés Naím, "A wold without Europe", The International Herald Tribune, December 8th 2010
    • Quentin Peel, "Merkel seeks calm after Juncker's E-bond blast", ft.com, December 9th 2010
    • David Oakley and Peter Spiegel, "Eurozone bond markets face testing run", ft.com, December 9th 2010
    • Ousmène Mandeng, "Euro's woes should spark monetary system rethink", ft.com, December 9th 2010
    • Ralph Atkins, Lionel Barber and Tony Barber, "Draghi warns on bond purchases", ft.com, December 10th 2010

    Related articles in Italian:

    • Paul Krugman, "Il caso irlandese", ilsole24ore.com, December 4th 2010
    • Eugenio Scalfari, "Le esequie scomposte di un potere defunto", larepubblica.it, December 5th 2010
    • Romano Prodi, "I meriti della società, lo stallo della politica", Il Messaggero, December 5th 2010
    • Massimo Giannini, "Un brodino per l'euro ammalato", repubblica.it, December 6th 2010
    • Rossella Bocciarelli, "Draghi: 'Crescita, rigore, euro'", ilsole24ore.com, December 7th 2010
    • Dino Pesole, "No tedesco all'agenzia sui bond", ilsole24ore.com, December 7th 2010
    • Federico Fubini, "La 'Legge Ciampi' e la svolta italiana sul debito europeo che spiazza i mercati", corriere.it, December 7th 2010
    • Dino Pesole, "Il Trattato va bene per gli E-bond", ilsole2ore.com, December 8th 2010
    • Guido Gentili, "Un debito che rafforza l'Unione", ilsole24ore.com, December 8th 2010
    • Gian Enrico Rusconi, "L'euro sfida la leadership tedesca", lastampa.it, December 8th 2010
    • Vittorio De Rold, "Eurobond, per guardare oltre la crisi", ilsole24ore.com, December 8th 2010
    • Beda Romano, "Juncker rilancia sugli e-bond", ilsole24ore.com, December 9th 2010
    • Isabella Bufacchi, "Ora il debito pubblico costa più caro per tutti", ilsole24ore.com, December 9th 2010
    • Isabella Bufacchi, "All'asta tedesca dei bond sottoscritti 4 miliardi su 5", ilsole24ore.com, December 9th 2010
    • Vittoria Puledda, "Fmi: sistuazione preoccupante in Europa", repubblica.it, December 9th 2010.
    • Eugenio Occorsio, "'Il progetto della moneta unica è fallito. Il futuro è un euro del nord e uno del sud'",  interview with Luigi Zingales, la Repubblica, December 9th 2010
    • Marika De Feo, "Trichet: debito fermo solo in Germania e Italia", corriere.it, December 10th 2010
    • Vittorio De Rold, "L'Europa si divide sugli e-bond", Il Sole 24 Ore, December 10th 2010.
    • Jim O'Neill, "Sognando un euro forte", espresso.repubblica.it, December 16th 2010

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      Sunday, 5 December 2010

      Italian Students Want Their Future Back



      [Edoardo Montenegro, Turin] - Protests against the reform of the Italian University system reached its climax this week: students took control of several universities, occupied monuments, broke into the hall of Italian Senate and keep sleeping on the roofs of public buildings in order to express their disappointment for the bill written by the Education Minister Mariastella Gelmini (1).

      The law was approved amid high tensions at the Lower House (2) and was scheduled to be soon examined by the Italian Senate (3). However, the debate over the Financial Stability Law and the upcoming confidence vote on Silvio Berlusconi's Government forced the Italian Parliament to reschedule the debate after December 14th (4).

      The reform was proposed in 2008, with the apparent aim to cut waste and promote meritocracy. The Italian Government, anyway, had to put it off to 2010 owing to the protest of thousands of students and researchers.

      As outlined by Daniele Cecchi and Tullio Jappelli, the problem is money: at the moment, Italian Universities are working without knowing the amount of funds at their disposal in 2010, while funds for 2011 are being reduced (5). As Italy is cutting university funds, France and Germany are instead investing billion of euros to reform their education systems (6).

      Generations of students and researchers are protesting to defend themselves from the insane actions of older generations, which keep power and consider their future a costful threat rather than an indispensible investment.

      Italian universities are indeed relatively poor and spend a lot of money to pay old professors hired during the 70's without any specific assessment, while indipendence and competition between universities as well as between professors are low (7).

      To reform University, the Government should retrieve funds cracking down on tax evasion and invest in order to establish equal opportunities for students and researchers.

      _________

      (1) Gaia Pianigiani, "Education protests spread in Italy", The International Herald Tribune, November 27th 2010.

      (2) "Camera, passa la riforma Gelmini. Scontro sulle manganellate agli studenti", repubblica.it, November 30th 2010.

      (3) Eugenio Bruno, "Il Senato approvi al più presto la riforma Gelmini", ilsole24ore.com, December 2nd 2010.

      (4) "Università, la riforma Gelmini slitta", lastampa.it, December 2nd 2010.

      (5) Daniele Cecchi and Tullio Jappelli, "L'Università dell'incertezza", lavoce.info, November 26th 2010.

      (6) Letizia Gabaglio e Daniela Minerva, "Questa riforma è da riformare", L'Espresso, December 9th 2010.

      (7) We posted a larger analysis on this subject here: "A Young Wave Will Sweep You Away", February 11th 2009, talkingaboutitaly.com.




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      Sunday, 28 November 2010

      Garbage Hiding Under the Mask


      (Rita Willaert, Napels - Naples)

      [Edoardo Montenegro, Turin] - The dream is over: the Campania Region sinks into the trash, while citizens protest (1). In spite of Silvio Berlusconi promising that Naples would have been cleaned within three days  (2), the European Union reported that the situation has changed very little since 2008 (3).

      Meanwhile, harsh tensions rose within the Government (4). Actually, according to Giuseppe D'Avanzo, the Italian Prime Minister would be under blackmail and a faction of his party controlled by the Camorra (5).

      The trash crisis in Naples dates back to 1994, when state of emergency was declared and a commissioner appointed to solve the problem (6). Fifteen years later Silvio Berlusconi triumphantly celebrated the end of the crisis (7).

      But the truth was deeper.

      As masterly demonstrated by Roberto Saviano in "Gomorrah", Southern Italy is overloaded with rubbish coming from Northern Italy: businesses from the rich Po Valley find cheaper to hand over their garbage to the Camorra, instead of abiding the rules to legally dump waste (8).

      The documentary movie "Biutiful Cauntri" clearly explains that a fifteen-year-long state of emergency was incredibly lucrative for irregular businessmen, corrupted politicians and the Camorra itself: safety and environmental rules were indeed removed, making the cake bigger than ever (9).

      As Sergio Rizzo remarked, the responsibility lies on public administrators, while citizens of Southern Italy had to put up with their decisions (10). All the more reason, the problem concerns Italy as a whole: as Giorgio Bocca wrote, in Northern Italy not only is Mafia visibile, but it rules the roost (11).

      Ezio Mauro is right in saying that protests are a gleam of light into the dark: "They told us that there were just the people, standing in permanent and direct dialogue with the leader. Here they are, instead: citizens are back" (12).

      __________

      (1) Laura Viggiano - Reuters, "Garbage crisis in Naples sparks protests, vandalism", theglobeandmail.com, October 21st 2010.

      (2) "Berlusconi: 'Napoli pulita in tre giorni', corriere.it, October 28th 2010.

      (3) "Italy: Naples trash crisis 'as bad as 2008' says EU", adnkronos.com, November 22nd 2010.

      (4) Silvia Aloisi - Reuters, "Naples trash crisis highlights Berlusconi weakness", thestar.com, November 23rd 2010.

      (5) Giuseppe D'Avanzo, "Il premier sotto ricatto", repubblica.it, November 20th 2010.

      (6) "Sedici anni di emergenza rifiuti", ilpost.com, October 24th 2010.

      (7) "Berlusconi says Naples rubbish crisis is over", euronews.com, March 29th 2009.

      (8) On "Gomorrah" by Roberto Saviano, you can read the following review: Rachel Donadio "Underworld", nytimes.com, November 25th 2007.

      (9) "Biutiful Countri", a documentary movie by Esmeralda Calabria and Andrea D'Ambrosio, was premiered in November 2007 at the Torino Film Festival, where it received a special mention (wikipedia.org).

      (10) Sergio Rizzo, "Il fronte dei rifiuti che divide Nord e Sud", corriere.it, November 26th 2010.

      (11) Giorgio Bocca, "Il nord inquinato", repubblica.it, November 20th 2010.

      (12) Ezio Mauro, "Il ritorno dei cittadini", repubblica.it, November 26th 2010.






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      Sunday, 21 November 2010

      Chickens Come Home to the Roost


      (Felix_Nine, Chaos 4 Fun)

      [Edoardo Montenegro, Turin] - As the crisis approaches the Parliament, Italy seems beyond a point of no return (1). After passing the financial stability law, on December 14th lawmakers will have to decide whether to pull the plug on the Government or not (2).

      As Gianfranco Fini announced in his speech in Perugia, this week officials belonging to Future and Freedom resigned from the Government (3). Moreover, the Minister of Equal Opportunities Mara Carfagna is now threatening to quit (4).

      Even though everything seems lost, Silvio Berlusconi is not willing to give up (5). He is now asking for what is constitutionally impossible (6): early elections to be called just for the Chamber of Deputies and not for the Senate (7).

      Unfortunately, Italy is facing at the same time a deep political crisis and the world economic turmoil (8): in this context, early elections look incredibly dangerous (9). Given for granted that Silvio Berlusconi will not be able to gain support from the Parliament, his opponents and former allies will have to get together in order to face several emergences.

      First, a newly-appointed government will have to reform the electoral law following the French or the German model (10).

      Second, the conflict of interest in the media has to be immediately removed (11).

      Third, Italy has a lot of work to do in order to redress its economic system and hold down public debt, starting from investing soon in new sectors and increasing the average size of businesses (12).

      If Silvio Berlusconi steps down, the Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti might be asked to replace him (13). Otherwise, the Governor of the Bank Italy Mario Draghi is the most suitable candidate to keep together an extremely heterogeneous constitutional coalition (14).

      Hard is the road to freedom.

      _________

      (1) Claudio Tito, "Il momento della verità", repubblica.it, November 13th 2010.

      (2) "Camera e Senato: fiducia il 14 dicembre. Bossi: 'Governo fino a 27 marzo'", repubblica.it, November 16th 2010.

      (3) Stacy Meichtry, "New Resignations Add Pressure on Berlusconi", online.wsj.com, November 16th 2010.

      (4) Carmelo Lopapa, "Mara tradita nell'ultima battaglia: 'Ormai nel partito comandano gli affaristi'", repubblica.it, November 20th 2010.

      (5) Marcello Sorgi, "Il Cavaliere tenta la riscossa", lastampa.it, November 15th 2010.

      (6) Gustavo Zagrebelsky, "La Costituzione privatizzata", repubblica.it, November 16th 2010.

      (7) Stefano Rodotà, "Lo scioglimento ad personam", repubblica.it, November 15th 2010.

      (8) Mario Deaglio, "L'Italia nel mezzo di due crisi", lastampa.it, November 13th 2010.

      (9) Eugenio Scalfari, "L'ultima minaccia di Mackie Messer", repubblica.it, November 14th 2010.

      (10) Giovanni Sartori, "Una repubblica assai confusa", corriere.it, November 18th 2010.

      (11) Barbara Spinelli, "L'Italia del sottosuolo", repubblica.it, November 17th 2010.

      (12) Gian Maria Gros-Pietro, "Il Paese si svegli, serve una scossa", Il Messaggero, November 15th 2010.

      (13) Antonella Rampino, "Veltroni: 'La Lega è cambiata. Vuole Tremonti premier'", lastampa.it, November 21st 2010.

      (14) Tonia Mastrobuoni, "Se l'Irlanda precipita Draghi a Palazzo Chigi", il Riformista, November 17th 2010.

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      Sunday, 14 November 2010

      The Unbearable Lightness of Being Italian


      (Grevel, dozer)

      [Edoardo Montenegro, Turin] - The crisis of the Italian Government deepened last Sunday, when Gianfranco Fini - Parliament speaker and former ally of Silvio Berlusconi - spoke in Perugia at the first convention of his party, Future and Freedom, asking Silvio Berlusconi to resign (1).

      A week later, as Silvio Berlusconi is silently coming back from the G20 meeting in Seoul (2), a motion of confidence called by the Democratic Party and the Italy of Values waits for him at the Chamber of Deputies, while his allies called a rival motion at the Italian Senate, where he looks stronger (3).

      The reaction of the financial markets was sharp: the yield on 10-year government bonds rose in a week from 3.93% to 4.287% (4). The President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano was firm in explaining that a government crisis must not come before the Financial Stability Law for 2011 is passed (5).

      A formal crisis would probably lead to a Center-Right government held by someone else than Berlusconi (6). Liberation is probably coming, but it is not time to call for a celebration (7): despite his weakness, indeed, Silvio Berlusconi is still the one ready for early elections (8). All the more reasons, his rivals now stand together against him, but they are likely to split again soon (9).

      Adriano Sofri wittily explained that it looks as if Italians had to choose between the Constitution and prostitution (10), the dream of Eugenio Scalfari still being too far: Italians choosing between a republican Center-Right government and a reformist Center-Left government (11).

      In the meantime, a new goverment will have to face tough economic problems: the lack of productivity (12), the insufficient competition on the service sector (13) and the difficulty for young people to make ends meet (14).

      __________

      (1) Generazione Italia, "Discorso di Fini alla convention di Perugia - video", generazioneitalia.it.

      (2) Francesco Bei, "E Berlusconi fugge da Seul", repubblica.it, November 12th 2010.

      (3) "Governo, è guerra delle mozioni", repubblica.it, November 13th 2010.

      (4) Read the following articles on the subject:
      • Federico Fubini, "Mercati in fibrillazione per i titoli italiani: da mesi non succedeva", corriere.it, November 8th 2010
      • Christopher Emsden, "Berlusconi looks secure, for now, amid attacks", The Wall Street Journal Europe, November 9th 2010
      • "Lo spread tra Btp e Bund al massimo dall'introduzione dell'Euro", repubblica.it, November 12th 2010
      (5) Umberto Rosso, "Napolitano: prioritario approvare la finanziaria", repubblica.it, November 9th 2010.

      (6) Marcello Sorgi, "La crisi è aperta", lastampa.it, November 8th 2010.

      (7) Massimo Giannini, "E' arrivato il 25 aprile", repubblica.it, November 8th 2010.

      (8) Guy Dinmore, "Berlusconi thrown a lifeline", ft.com, November 8th 2010.

      (9) Massimo Franco, "L'asse del Nord", corriere.it, November 9th 2010.

      (10) Adriano Sofri, "L'abuso di potere/10", repubblica.it, November 7th 2010.

      (11) Eugenio Scalfari, "L'ultima partita a scacchi del Cavaliere", repubblica.it, November 7th 2010.

      (12) Mario Draghi, "Un mix di ostacoli alla competitività", ilsole24ore.com, November 6th 2010.

      (13) Bill Emmott, "Made in Italy alla prova della realtà", lastampa.it, November 7th 2010.

      (14) Tito Boeri, "Conti, l'inno alla miopia", repubblica.it, November 10th 2010.


      Related article in English

      Related articles in Italian
      • Massimo Giannini, "In fondo al pozzo", repubblica.it, November 5th 2010
      • Miguel Gotor, "L'italia un satellite immobile senza idee", ilsole24ore.info, November 7th 2010
      • Carlo De Benedetti, "C'era una volta la buona politica", ilsole24ore.com, November 10th 2010
      • Jacques Attali, "Il decalogo per salvare l'Italia", repubblica.it, November 11th 2010
      • Giuseppe D'Avanzo, "L'abuso di potere/12", repubblica.it, November 11th 2010
      •  
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        Sunday, 7 November 2010

        The Fall of the Night Club Regime


        (Kjpm, Berlusconi?)

        [Edoardo Montenegro, Turin] - The Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is facing a new scandal. Italian newspapers reported that on May 27th, at night, he called Milan police to ask the release of a 17 year-old Moroccan girl who was under custody for allegedly stealing cash. The girl - nicknamed Ruby - had previously attended parties at Silvio Berlusconi's villa in Arcore (1).

        Did Silvio Berlusconi commit an abuse of power? (2) News reports seems at least to show that his court works relentlessly to satisfy his private pleasures (3).

        Admitting his acquaintance with the girl, Silvio Berlusconi simply explained that: "it's better to be keen on pretty women than gay" (4). Silvio Berlusconi's homophobia is probably not naive, his strongest supporters being very sensitive to the 'problem' (5).

        In the meantime, polls say that if elections were held with the current electoral law, Silvio Berlusconi - helped by the Northern League - would keep control of the Parliament (6).

        As depicted by Eugenio Scalfari, a thirty-year-old process of mass distraction has strengthened the worst instincts of Italian culture, which have become dominant and suffocating (7). Sadly enough, as outlined by Mario Monti, the political show going on simply distracts people from economic and social issues which will determine the future of young generations (8).

        Unemployment actually affects 26% of Italian young people: if they do not protest, it is just because their families managed so far to help and protect them (9). Besides, according to the President of Confindustria Emma Marcegaglia, Italy is paralyzed (10).

        Silvio Berlusconi is not willing to resign (11), but his fall looks like the slow remake of previous films. Benito Mussolini was a bloody tragedy, Bettino Craxi was a lucrative comedy, Silvio Berlusconi is a night club show.

        Are we in for freedom or a new dictatorship?

        __________

        (1) Stacy Meichtry, "Berlusconi under fire over runaway", online.wsj.com, November 1st 2010.

        (2) Bill Emmott, "After Berlusconi, there'll be no flood of chaos", timesplus.co.uk, November 1st 2010.

        (3) Giuseppe D'Avanzo, "L'abuso di potere/6", repubblica.it, November 3rd 2010.

        (4) "Berlusconi - 'Pretty women better than being gay", corriere.it, November 3rd 2010 (translation by Giles Watson).

        (5) Stefano Folli, "La Lega resta salda, Fini si allontana. E lo stillicidio continua", ilsole24ore.com, November 3rd 2010.

        (6) Emilia Patta, "Sondaggio IPSOS-Il Sole 24Ore: il nuovo centro balza al 21%. Quasi un italiano su due sceglie l'astensione ", ilsole24ore.com, November 3rd 2010.

        (7) Eugenio Scalfari, "Il bunga bunga che segna la fine di un regno", repubblica.it, October 31st 2010.

        (8) Mario Monti, "Quanto tempo abbiamo perso", corriere.it, October 31st 2010.

        (9) Ilvo Diamanti, "L'Italia che si aggrappa alla famiglia", repubblica.it, November 1st 2010.

        (10) Nicoletta Picchio, "Marcegaglia: il paese è paralizzato, governo senza iniziativa, servono riforme", ilsole24ore.com, October 31st 2010.

        (11) Lorenzo Fuccaro, "Frattini: cancellerie preoccupate? Solo dallo stillicidio sulla stabilità?", Corriere della Sera, November 1st 2010.


        Related articles in English

        •  Elisabetta Provoledo, "Fresh scandal circles Berlusconi",  International Herald Tribune, November 2nd 2010.
        • Guy Dinmore, "Berlusconi seeks to laugh off latest crisis", ft.com, November 3rd 2010.


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        Sunday, 31 October 2010

        Silvio Berlusconi and the Helmet of Mambrino


        [Edoardo Montenegro, Turin] -  The future of Silvio Berlusconi is hanging by a thread. While the attention of Italian citizens is diverted by his sexual behaviour (1) and real estate affairs (2), legal problems have become gangrenous (3).

        This week Giorgio Napolitano expressed firm disapproval towards a proposed constitutional law which would make the Italian President himself and the Prime Minister repeatedly immune from any legal prosecution. According to him, indeed, the shield law would force the Constitution by subjecting the President of the Republic to the will of the Parliament (4).

        Giorgio Napolitano is also said to be worried that a shield extended to the figure of the President of the Republic might make Silvio Berlusconi immune from prosecution until 2020 (5), the shield possibly being part of a larger strategy aimed at leading Silvio Berlusconi to become President of the Republic in 2013 (6).

        If repeatable, indeed, the shield might permit Silvio Berlusconi to avoid any trial up to the age of 84, consequently turning immunity into impunity (7). Such a legislating fury is at least suspicious, a different law yet allowing the Prime Minister not to resort to the court if engeged in any official appointment (8).

        Moreover, the shield law would immediately put the Italian Prime Minister at the same stage as the President of the Italian Republic (9). In this case, any public conflict would easily turn in favour of the former, which is chosen - though indirectly - through general elections (10).

        The picture might not be more vivid: as Giuseppe D'Avanzo wrote, at the end of his political career the Italian Prime Minister is interpreting a tragedy marked by the abuse of power (11).

        With the shield law, Silvio Berlusconi is actually putting a colander on his head in order to make his regime eternal.

        _________

        * "- I say this because, unless I am mistaken, coming toward us is a man who wears on his head the helmet of Mambrino, concerning which, as you well know, I have made a vow.
            - Your grace, be careful what you say, and more careful what you do, - said Sancho, - for you wouldn't want this to be more fulling hammers that end up hammering and battering our senses."
        (Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quijote, I, XXI, translation by Edith Grossman).

        (1) Piero Colaprico «Ruby. "Silvio showed me the Audi and said: 'It's yours'"», repubblica.it, October 29th 2010.

        (2) Sergio Rizzo "Gli investimenti di Berlusconi. Ad Antigua ville per 22 milioni", corriere.it, October 17th 2010.

        (3) Marcello Sorgi, "La regola e l'eccezione", lastampa.it, October 27th 2010.

        (4) Read Al.T., "Scudo, lo stop di Napolitano", Corriere della Sera, October 23rd 2010. Article 90 of the Italian Constitution, concerning Presidential Indemnity, explains that:
        1. "The president may not be held responsible for exercising his duties, except for high treason and attempts to overthrow the constitution.
        2. In these cases, he must be impeached by parliament in joint session by a majority of its members."
        (5) Massimo Franco, "Effetti a catena", corriere.it, October 23rd 2010.

        (6) Stefano Folli, "Lo scudo sbriciolato all'ombra del Quirinale", ilsole24ore.it, October 23rd 2010.

        (7) Luca Ricolfi, "La differenza tra immunità e impunità", lastampa.it, October 23rd 2010.

        (8) Pierluigi Battista, "Una lunga stagione da chiudere", Corriere della Sera, October 24th 2010.

        (9) Massimo Giannini, "Il nuovo lodo Alfano: un Frankestein costituzionale", repubblica.it, October 23rd 2010.

        (10) Eugenio Scalfari, "Il sasso istituzionale e lo tsunami politico", repubblica.it, October 24th 2010.

        (11) Giuseppe D'Avanzo, "L'abuso di potere", repubblica.it, October 29th 2010.

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        Sunday, 24 October 2010

        The Happy Protest of Italian Metalworkers


        (mcdarius, Happiness)

        [Edoardo Montenegro, Turin] - On Saturday, October 16th, a huge mass of workers and citizens gathered in Rome to defend the rights of Italian metalworkers following recent labour disputes at FIAT in Pomigliano and Melfi (1). The demonstration was a remarkable success for FIOM-CGIL (2), which suggested a general strike to be called soon (3).

        The debate had split Italian trade unions after CISL and UIL (4) accepted FIAT bid to give up the current metalworkers contract in exchange for new investments in Italy, while FIOM-CGIL resolutely refused it (5).

        The dispute had become wicked as egg launchers attacked CISL and UIL offices in several Italian cities (6), while CISL Secretary General Raffaele Bonanni was launched a smoke bomb at a public speech in Turin (7). FIOM and CGIL firmly condemned any violent attack (8).

        Overtly supporting CISL and UIL against FIOM-CGIL (9), the Italian Government had repeatedly claimed that FIOM protest in Rome might be violent, raising accusations of dangerously fanning the flames (10).

        As outlined by Gad Lerner, the quiet atmosphere of Rome demonstration made FIOM-CGIL able to claim the respect of basic rights, such as striking and absenting of work due to illness, which actually are under attack (11).

        If on one hand, as the former leader of CGIL Sergio Cofferati remarked, the trade unions are always supposed to defend the rights of workers (12), on the other hand - as Paolo Flores d'Arcais explained - FIOM-CGIL was indeed extremely effective in putting together the rights of workers with Italy's need for growth (13).

        The success of FIOM-CGIL represents also a defeat for the Italian Democratic Party (14), which obstinately and ineffectively claims to be equidistant from different trade unions (15). The Italy of Values and Left Ecology and Freedom, instead, happily supported the demonstration (16).

        __________

        (1) Guy Dinmore, "Protests hit Rome's efforts to cut deficit", ft.com, October 18th 2010.

        (2) Founded in 1901 and led by Maurizio Landini, the Federation of Metallurgical Employees and Workers (FIOM) is the metallurgic section of CGIL (Italian General Labour Confederation). CGIL, founded in 1906 and led by Guglielmo Epifani, is the main Italian trade union with an estimated 6 mln members (fiom.cgil.it and cgil.it).

        (3) Alessandro Capponi, "Epifani: dal governo risposte o sarà sciopero", corriere.it, Octrober 17th 2010.

        (4) Founded in 1948 and led by Raffaele Bonanni, the Italian Confederation of Labour Trade Unions (CISL) is the second Italian trade union with an estimated 4.5 mln members (cisl.it). Founded in 1950 and led by Luigi Angeletti, the Italian Union of Labour is the third Italian trade union with an estimated 1,75 million members (uil.it).

        (5) Paolo Griseri, "Tute blu contro tute blu. Così ci si divide in fabbrica", repubblica.it, October 4th 2010.

        (6) Roberto Mania, "Nuovo attacco a una sede Cisl. Scritte insultanti e lanci di uova. La Polizia allerta i prefetti", repubblica.it, October 13th 2010. Read also Nicoletta Picchio, "Assalto a Confindustria Padova", ilsole24ore.com, October 14th 2010.

        (7) "Festa Pd, blitz dei centri sociali: Bonanni colpito da un fumogeno", lastampa.it, September 8th 2010.

        (8) Read Luigina Venturelli, "Nuovi attacchi a Cisl e Uil. Epifani: fatti vergognosi", unita.it, October 13th 2010. Read also Luisa Grion, "Landini: un gesto da condannare ma vero colpo di mano è di altri", repubblica.it, October 1st 2010.

        (9) Roberto Mania, "Sacconi: 'A Roma una minoranza radicale inadatta a governare'", la Repubblica, October 17th 2010. Read also Cesare Peruzzi, "La ricetta Sacconi: salario legato alla produttività", ilsole24ore.com, October 17th 2010.

        (10) Alberto D'Argenio, "'Corteo Fiom a rischio incidenti'. Bufera sull'allarme di Maroni", la Repubblica, October 15th 2010.

        (11) Gad Lerner, "Il valore del lavoro e la politica distante", repubblica.it, October 17th 2010.

        (12) Giorgio Meletti, "Cofferati: sto con la FIOM. Il PD? Spero che capisca", ilfattoquotidiano.it, October 14th 2010.

        (13) Paolo Flores d'Arcais, "Strategia della tensione", ilfattoquotidiano.it, October 15th 2010.

        (14) Dario Di Vico, "Il sindacato metalmeccanico si fa partito e la sua piazza 'cattura' il segretario Cgil", corriere.it, October 17th 2010.

        (15) Claudio Tito, "Bersani: Cisl e Uil non hanno tradito. 'Il Pd non sceglie tra i sindacati'", repubblica.it, October 18th 2010.

        (16) Luca Telese, "Il Pd scompare, Vendola e Di Pietro ne approfittano", ilfattoquotidiano.it, October 17th 2010.


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