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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid