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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Not Getting Any Better

A quick update on the situation in Italy:
  • At yesterday's emergency cabinet meeting, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi failed to convince Umberto Bossi, leader of junior coalition party Lega Nord, to back his plans to raise retirement age to 67;
  • According to Italian media, yesterday Berlusconi hinted at resignation on at least two separate occasions. First, he told Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, "I don’t know if Lega Nord will back this pensions reform. If I don’t manage [to convince them], then I could do the same as Zapatero in Spain.” He then reportedly told the cabinet meeting that he was "ready" to step down, adding, “I’m asking you for a full mandate, otherwise there’s no point in me going to Brussels [to attend Wednesday's EU summit].”
  • Italian Infrastructure Minister Altero Matteoli said this morning that no cabinet meeting is scheduled for today, as "there's no need for it". He warned of the risk of Italy's ruling coalition collapsing- but that's hardly a secret anymore;
  • Berlusconi is currently holding talks with Lega Nord ministers and the heads of Lega Nord factions in both Chambers of Italian parliament, plus a couple of key members of his party. Two absences stand out: Lega Nord leader Umberto Bossi and Italian Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti are not taking part in this new round of talks in Palazzo Grazioli;
  • Gianni Letta, Undersecretary to the Presidency of the Italian government, is widely mentioned in the Italian press as the most likely head of a transitional government, should Berlusconi actually decide to step down. However, Lega Nord leader Umberto Bossi told reporters this morning that, although the situation is "very dangerous" for the coalition, his party has no intention of supporting "a government of technocrats". In other words, it's either Berlusconi or early elections. In any case, Bossi is not planning to meet Il Cavaliere today;
  • Meanwhile, in Brussels, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso's spokesperson said that he has heard nothing new regarding Italy's willingness to to adopt the measures that Merkel and Sarkozy demanded at Sunday's EU summit.
So things are not getting any better for Berlusconi and his government. As usual, you can follow us on Twitter @OpenEurope for instant updates from around Europe.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

berlusconi cannot step down before he has time to change some more laws or else he is heading straight to jail for a long time.
First is the law to curtail due process and limit court case lengths, enough to stop the current Mills trial, where he is certain to be convicted, unless the laws are twisted to allow him off on a time technicality, while his lawyers drag out every trick in the book and he keeps deferring his appearances for spurious reasons of state business.