News / Europe

Italian Senate Vote Marks Beginning of End for Berlusconi

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (File)
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (File)
Henry Ridgwell

The euro debt crisis looks set to claim its biggest scalp after the Italian senate approved a broad range of austerity measures Friday, paving the way for Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to resign. A 68-year-old adviser for Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Mario Monti is a leading candidate to take over - but  the newcomer has already provoked some critics before he’s even confirmed in the job.

The Italian senate passed the package of austerity measures by 156 votes in favour to just 12 against. The lower house is due to vote on the same bill Saturday. If it passes there, Prime Minister Berlusconi has vowed to step down - perhaps as soon as the weekend.

Italy’s longest-serving post-World War II leader has indicated he would back a unity government, likely to be led by former European Union commissioner Mario Monti.

James Walston of the American University of Rome says investors desperately want to see such sweeping changes.

“I think that Mario Monti is the person that the markets are waiting for. The former EU commissioner, he’s been dealing with competition policy, he’s internationally respected, he’s a very good economist. I think it will bring stability. He will have to face a lot of challenges and it’s not going to be easy,” Walston said.

The current austerity measures are aimed at saving almost 60 billion euros from spending cuts and tax rises.
Public sector salaries would be frozen until 2014.

The retirement age for women would gradually be raised towards 65.  Sales taxes would increase to 21%. And cash transactions would be limited to 2,500 euros in a bid to target tax evaders.

Economist Nicola Borri says only a unity government run by a non-political figure could hope to implement such austerity on the Italian people.

“Even in parliament, there are quite large groups of people on both sides that believe these reforms are important, that they should be implemented, but these people do not have enough political power to put them forward. And so the hope is that this person who’s not going to run in the future might be able to do the dirty job. He is going to pass these reforms, maybe people are going to hate him for a little bit but he doesn’t care too much and so these reforms will be in place, ” Borri said.

Markets may approve - but there are many dissenting voices. Newspaper columns and blogs are buzzing with claims that Mario Monti is being imposed on Italy by the European Union.

“There is a serious concern about democracy because people feel that some measures are imposed from above coming from the euro. In Italy, still they remember the euro problem when the prices doubled in the changeover [from the lira] so the euro does not have an exceptional reputation here,” said. Claudio Borghi, a columnist with the Milan-based ‘Il Giornale’ newspaper.

The accusations that the EU is undermining Italy’s sovereignty echo those made in Greece, where a new so-called technocrat Prime Minister, Lucas Papedemos has been sworn in to usher through further rounds of spending cuts.

But such is the gravity of the debt crisis, the European Union insists economic stability must come first.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid