Italy outgrows Berlusconi

The Italian right-wing has shown they are finally prepared to act independently of the three-times former prime minister.

While the US government shut down this week, there was another political farce in Europe. Last weekend, centre-right leader and three-times former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi ordered his ministers to quit the left-right coalition run by prime minister Enrico Letta, ostensibly over an increase in the consumption tax.

In truth, however, Berlusconi was attempting to pre-empt a vote to oust him from parliament after his conviction for tax fraud.

But early this week, after facing a rebellion from some of his ministers, he dropped his demand for snap elections, thus enabling the government to survive the vote of confidence he had triggered.

What the commentators said

He was always far more interested in his own career than Italy's political and economic progress, and it's largely his fault that Italy has gone from "top-tier industrial nation to a crisis-ridden, over-indebted country in desperate need of reforms", added Hans-Jurgen Schlamp on Spiegel.de.

This time Berlusconi planned to topple the government and, assuming a subsequent election victory, pass laws to avoid expulsion from parliament. "He doesn't want to retire."

Still, his U-turn this week following dissent from his colleagues is fuelling hope that "the Italian right is finally outgrowing" Berlusconi, as Charlemagne put it. The big picture hasn't changed much, however.

Italy's economy has barely grown in 20 years and the seven-month-old government has failed to enact the structural reforms that would raise the long-term growth rate "it was entangled in vetoes by the coalition parties", said the FT.

Galvanising growth, and thus starting to work off Italy's colossal debt pile of 120% of GDP, is what ultimately matters most, said Richard Barley in The Wall Street Journal. But the growth outlook is "nowhere near as exciting as Italian politics".

Recommended

The Arab Spring ten years on: a revolution that failed to blossom
Global Economy

The Arab Spring ten years on: a revolution that failed to blossom

Ten years ago, the Arab world was rocked by mass protests and popular uprisings that ousted long-reviled dictators. For the most part, the end result …
23 Jan 2021
The charts that matter: inflation, bubbles, and booze
Economy

The charts that matter: inflation, bubbles, and booze

As US stocks head higher into bubble territory, John Stepek looks at the charts that matter most to the global economy.
23 Jan 2021
Inflation is the easiest way out of this – just don’t expect politicians to admit it
Inflation

Inflation is the easiest way out of this – just don’t expect politicians to admit it

The UK government borrowed £34.1bn in December, a record amount for that month. Britain's debt pile now amounts to 100% of GDP. How are we going to pa…
22 Jan 2021
Beware: inflation is starting to stir in the US
Inflation

Beware: inflation is starting to stir in the US

With US consumer prices up by 1.4% in the last year, concern about inflation is now everywhere.
22 Jan 2021

Most Popular

Why we won’t see a house-price crash in 2021
House prices

Why we won’t see a house-price crash in 2021

Lockdown sent house prices berserk as cooped up home-workers fled for bigger properties in the country. And while they won’t rise quite as much this y…
18 Jan 2021
Inflation is the easiest way out of this – just don’t expect politicians to admit it
Inflation

Inflation is the easiest way out of this – just don’t expect politicians to admit it

The UK government borrowed £34.1bn in December, a record amount for that month. Britain's debt pile now amounts to 100% of GDP. How are we going to pa…
22 Jan 2021
When will the US stockmarket bubble burst?
US stockmarkets

When will the US stockmarket bubble burst?

With US stocks more expensive than before the Wall Street crash of 1929, there are growing signs of “mania”. But what will push markets over the edge?
22 Jan 2021