Glimmers of hope in Italy

The notoriously inefficient and divided Italy has managed to drive through a huge reform of its parliament.

15-11-12-Renzi-634
Prime minister Matteo Renzi has revived the ossified labour market

"I would never have thought", says Andreas Unterberger onOrtnerOnline.at, that Italy would be able to push through major political changes faster than Austria. Yet this notoriously inefficient and divided country has managed to drive through a huge reform. The administration has cut the number of members of the upper house of parliament, the senate, by two-thirds. This streamlined parliament will become far more flexible and able to push through economic reforms more easily.

And this isn't the centre-left government's only success, says BloombergView.com. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who took office in February 2014, has pushed through a Jobs Act designed to revive the ossified labour market, trimming "excessive job protections" and providing incentives to hire. "The new-style contracts seem to be creating jobs." Helped along by the gradual eurozone recovery, unemployment has fallen from 12.8% to 11.8% over the past year, notes Richard Barley in The Wall Street Journal.

Manufacturing and services surveys have improved and consumer confidence is at a 13-year high. GDP grew in the first two quarters of 2015 and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) now expects growth of 1.3% next year. There is a long way to go and there's an eye-wateringly large public debt pile of 130% to work off. But Italy could finally be turning the corner after years of stagnation.Advertisement

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