Italy

Italy: How Long Can the Party Last?

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Romano Prodi's victory in last month's Italian elections saw the end of one of Europe's most hated right wing governments. But, asks Chris Bambery, can the coalition that beat Berlusconi stand up to the pressure for neo-liberal 'reform'?

The narrow victory of the centre left in last month's Italian elections has served to revive ruling class fears about the future direction of Europe's core economies. While the narrowness of the victory has mainstream political commentators rolling out the usual stereotypes and chuckling, "How typically Italian," the apparent inability of Italy's political classes to force through a package of neo-liberal reforms to the electorate has made right wing "Anglo-Saxon" economists apoplectic with rage and led them to forecast a collapse of the economy.

Italy: Berlusconi's Political Capital Goes into the Red

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The man who according to Forbes magazine is the 25th richest person in the world seems to be having a few problems lately.

Although his personal income last year was a mere € 13 million, he's just sold off a cool € 2 billion of shares in his major holding company. But is this man really in big trouble and what is he going to do with all this money?

Chain Reaction

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Watching the televised congress of Italy's biggest far left party, Rifondazione Comunista, last month brought to mind a statement by its general secretary, Bertinotti, when he spoke at the SWP's Marxism two years ago.

The old debate between reform and revolution, he said, is no longer relevant at a time when reformists cannot deliver reforms and revolutionaries cannot bring about revolution.

It is an argument frequently heard in the global movement of the last five years. We can all see that neoliberalism and war are causing immense damage, it is argued, and we have to forget our differences in order to oppose them.

Italy: A General Offensive is Needed

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The newsreader on the main Italian lunchtime news on 30 November began with the following words: 'This news bulletin will be shorter than normal due to strike action by journalists and technicians in support of today's general strike.

The shop stewards committee at RAI [the Italian equivalent of the BBC] authorises me to say that it fully supports today's action and calls for the government to withdraw its budget and start a policy for real economic development.' The country was at a standstill: trains, buses and aircraft all came to a halt.

His Friends in the South

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Review of 'Silvio Berlusconi', Paul Ginsborg, Verso £16

It would be all too easy to see Italy's prime minister and former cruise ship crooner, Silvio Berlusconi, as a bit of a buffoon and a dodgy geezer. There is often a smack of racist stereotyping when Berlusconi is under discussion. Paul Ginsborg, one of the most eminent historians of postwar Italy, takes Berlusconi very seriously. He is right to. He has written what must be the definitive English (and probably Italian) biography of the Italian mega-magnate and politician.

Italy: Preparing a Warm Welcome for Bush

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In Italy problems are mounting up for Tony Blair's ally Silvio Berlusconi.

Last month workers scored a big victory. On the industrial front, both Berlusconi and his business allies must have thought they had ridden out the worst of the storms of protest that have characterised his government. After four general strikes in two years, the explosion and then decline of the social forum movement, the opposition had no clear victory to point to.

Italy: We are All Subversives

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Berlusconi's right wing government is cracking down on protesters, but opposition is growing.

Twenty activists from the Italian anti-capitalist movement were arrested by masked police in the early hours of Friday 15 November, while another 22 were notified that they were under investigation. Some of the accusations are laughable, like throwing vegetables at policemen and going to a demonstration 'armed with a pumpkin', but they are also facing very serious and very political charges, such as 'subversion against state authority'. This is a fascist law dating back to 1930, and carries a minimum sentence of five years.

Italy: 'We Can't Turn Back Now'

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Tom Behan looks at the growing working class struggle in Italy.

'The message to the government from the streets is clear: we've got you surrounded--come out with your hands up.' You could hardly criticise the bravado of Francesco Caruso, leader of the 'disobedient' wing of the Italian Social Forum movement. Just a year ago pessimism dominated the Italian left following the election of Silvio Berlusconi. Then came Genoa.

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