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",, December 22nd 2010.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.


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.}


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",, December 15th 2010.

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

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

(4) Guy Dinmore, "Berlusconi under attack before confidence vote",, 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",, December 16th 2010.

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

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

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

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


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

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


    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",, December 7th 2010.

    (2) Jean-Claude Juncker and Giulio Tremonti, "E-bond would  end the crisis",, 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",, 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'",, December 10th 2010.

    (4) Andrea Tarquini, "Schmidt attacca Merkel e Buba: "Incompetenti e reazionari",, 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",, December 9th 2010.

    (6) Ralph Atkins, Lionel Barber and Tony Barber, "Interview with Mario Draghi: Action on the addicts",, 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",, December 10th 2010.

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

    (8) Massimo Giannini, "I 90 anni di Ciampi: 'La politica ha perso il rispetto delle istituzioni'",, 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",, December 6th 2010
    • Guy Dinmore, "Draghi says Italy needs faster growth to pay back debts",, December 7th 2010
    • Peter Spiegel, "IMF calls for 'comprehensive' euro solution",, December 8th 2010
    • Martin Wolf, "Is there the will to save the eurozone?",, 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",, December 9th 2010
    • David Oakley and Peter Spiegel, "Eurozone bond markets face testing run",, December 9th 2010
    • Ousmène Mandeng, "Euro's woes should spark monetary system rethink",, December 9th 2010
    • Ralph Atkins, Lionel Barber and Tony Barber, "Draghi warns on bond purchases",, December 10th 2010

    Related articles in Italian:

    • Paul Krugman, "Il caso irlandese",, December 4th 2010
    • Eugenio Scalfari, "Le esequie scomposte di un potere defunto",, 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",, December 6th 2010
    • Rossella Bocciarelli, "Draghi: 'Crescita, rigore, euro'",, December 7th 2010
    • Dino Pesole, "No tedesco all'agenzia sui bond",, December 7th 2010
    • Federico Fubini, "La 'Legge Ciampi' e la svolta italiana sul debito europeo che spiazza i mercati",, December 7th 2010
    • Dino Pesole, "Il Trattato va bene per gli E-bond",, December 8th 2010
    • Guido Gentili, "Un debito che rafforza l'Unione",, December 8th 2010
    • Gian Enrico Rusconi, "L'euro sfida la leadership tedesca",, December 8th 2010
    • Vittorio De Rold, "Eurobond, per guardare oltre la crisi",, December 8th 2010
    • Beda Romano, "Juncker rilancia sugli e-bond",, December 9th 2010
    • Isabella Bufacchi, "Ora il debito pubblico costa più caro per tutti",, December 9th 2010
    • Isabella Bufacchi, "All'asta tedesca dei bond sottoscritti 4 miliardi su 5",, December 9th 2010
    • Vittoria Puledda, "Fmi: sistuazione preoccupante in Europa",, 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",, 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",, December 16th 2010


      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",, November 30th 2010.

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

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

      (5) Daniele Cecchi and Tullio Jappelli, "L'Università dell'incertezza",, 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,