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Thursday, December 06, 2012

Berlusconi's Senators fire warning shot across Monti's bow

We told you that the four months to the next Italian general elections could be a very long time. And the political situation in Italy could be set for more ups and downs due to the events of the last 24 hours.

This is what happened:
  • Last night, Silvio Berlusconi put out a communiqué saying that he is "besieged" by people asking him to run in next year's elections, and will make his final decision "within the next few days". 
  • This morning, Italian Economic Development Minister Corrado Passera (in the picture) was critical of Berlusconi's declarations, arguing that "anything that can make the rest of the world even only imagine that we are going backwards is not good for Italy". A clear invitation to Il Cavaliere to enjoy a peaceful retirement.
  • Retaliation has been immediate. Mario Monti was facing a confidence vote in the Italian Senate this morning on a new set of (badly needed) measures to boost the competitiveness of the Italian economy, drafted by Passera himself. A majority of senators from Berlusconi's party did not take part in the vote, while a smaller group abstained. 
  • Crucially, the leader of Berlusconi's senators, Maurizio Gasparri, said ahead of the vote, "Our attitude [today] signals...the shift of our group to a position of abstention towards the government." This seems to suggest that Berlusconi's party has withdrawn its support for Monti's government.
Monti, who rushed to Palazzo Madama to cast his vote, given that he is a 'senator for life', survived this time. But if all of Berlusconi's senators show next time and abstain (which, by the way, cannot be taken for granted, given the internal divisions created by Il Cavaliere's latest hints to a comeback), Monti would be in danger of losing his majority - since absent Senators' votes do not count and bring the required majority down, as happened a couple of hours ago.

The big question is: was today's an isolated incident or a definitive change of position? Gasparri's words seem to suggest the latter could be true. Should this be the case, Berlusconi could be about to trigger another round of political uncertainty Italy really doesn't need.

1 comment:

Rik said...

It is about time Monti packs his bags, before the Italian political mob destroys his credibility.
Let them survive the time to the elections and let them explain their voters that things get much worse. Most likley they cannot.

Later he can come back, when the conditions for structural reforms are better.
But apparently the Italian people need a shocker to realise party time is really over and its politicians should either be shot or stopped from doing their destructive work.
After that he can come back as basically the only Italian politician with:
a) a brain (technical knowledge about the subject matter;
b) credibility with the ones that have to put some extra money in that circus (like the EZ/ECB/Foreign investors.
And likely more under his conditions.