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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license 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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid