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  • In the final run-off vote for local administrations June 9, affecting 3.5 million voters in 136 townships, participation dropped by a quarter, from a healthy 68.2% to 52%. Some historic left-wing administrations fell to the Lega, but in some cases 5-Star Movement (M5S) voters chose to vote for the center-left instead of Lega candidates.
  • Facts & Stories
    Judith Harris(January 09, 2018)
    The holidays are over but not the outrage in Rome over the huge piles of rubbish, worse than ever after the Christmas season. The streets are littered, including in the historical center. This being the country that gave us Machiavelli, the rubbish also stinks of politics.
  • Reform of the Senate to streamline the legislative process is a hallmark of his governing project, but Premier Matteo Renzi faces both in-house opposition and an avalanche of 350,000 amendments. Together these obstacles bring the risk of a showdown.
  • Spring is busting out all over Italy, but the political climate remains deep winter. Premier Matteo Renzi, whose popularity had been robust at almost 40% in January, is watching his once firm grip on politics slip to today’s 33%. Meanwhile the stormy problems facing his government – public works, migrants, election rules – would challenge any leader anywhere.
  • It's a done deal: on Wednesday the Chamber of Deputies passed a revised election law dubbed the "Italicum," with 365 votes in favor, 156 nays and 40 abstentions. The new law, whose aim is to promote governing stability in a country where the political parties are locked in a three-way split, now passes to the Senate for debate and approval. But Premier Matteo Renzi's point was also to show that he can make good on his promises to bring change.
  • "We need a radical project if we are, all together, to drag ourselves out of the swamp," Matteo Renzi told the Partito Democratico (PD) executive today. "We cannot go forward in a situation of uncertainty." That uncertainty may be at an end. Today Premier Enrico Letta, the sober economist who has managed to placate the EU by bolstering Italy's debt position, seemed on the threshold of being obliged to pass the hand to the slightly younger but more charismatic Renzi, former mayor of Florence. "Mine is zen calm," said Letta, "day to day." Following the conclusion of the PD meeting Letta announced that he would resign formally tomorrow.
  • Matteo Renzi's trumpeted agenda for renewal of the Partito Democratico begins with reform of the despised "Porcellum," the "porker" or "pigsty" law, promoted by Silvio Berlusconi, which took effect in December of 2005. By its terms in a national general election the political party which bests the others, even when it has a mere 30% of the vote, walks away with 55% of the Senate and a large percent in the Chamber. Renzi is having none of this-- and is scaring the old pols witless because he seems willing to accept reform votes in Parliament from any quarter, not excluding the aggressive Beppe Grillo.
  • Given the disaffection in the Italian electorate, not a single pundit dared to predict that two million people would turn out for Sunday's Partito Democratico (PD) primaries to elect a new general secretary. So guess what: a stunningly large number, almost three million, defied chill weather and Christmas shopping traffic jams to stand in line to vote in the 8,400 impromptu polling stations set up by volunteers all over Italy. As predicted, Matteo Renzi, the 38-year-old, fast-talking mayor of Florence since 2009, won the three-way race, but here too the surprise was that he claimed the support of over two out of three voters, or, with 1.7 million votes to his credit, almost 70%. It was, as the media here are saying, "an avalanche," "a tsunami."
  • Facts & Stories
    Judith Harris(December 01, 2013)
    The now splintered conservative parties represented by Silvio Berlusconi and his former alter ego Angelino Alfano slip at least momentarily into the background this week as the Partito Democratico (PD) finally takes center-stage. Opening December 8, the PD national convention will sanction the election of a new general secretary expected to represent a crucial generational shift away from the old-style politicians of the past. Three candidates are in the running in primaries throughout the country.
  • In his attempt to weld together governing partners so as to end over two months of dangerous political void, Premier Designate Enrico Letta, 46, of the Partito Democratico (PD) has called for a "slim and sober" cabinet that will hit the ground running. Letta was called upon to try to form a government only l7 hours after Napolitano's re-election to succeed himself as president. His program points for a "service government" reflect some of the advice put forward by the so-called "sages" appointed last month by President Giorgio Napolitano. If he succeeds, a new government is expected within the week.

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