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Berlusconi loses power

The Italian Lower House will approve Monti's government
Added on November 18, 2011 at 15:34 Italien time
After the Senate yesterday with 281 against 25 votes, Italy's Lower House has just approved Prime Minister Mario Monti's reform program with 556 votes in the 630-seat Chamber.

The Italian Senate will approve Monti's government

Added on November 17, 2011 at 14:32 Italien time
Today, Mario Monti has presented the program of his government (formed yesterday) in the Italian Senate, which subsequently will give him their confidence. Afterwards, Monti deposited his speech at the Lower House, which will have to approve his government tomorrow.

Berlusconi's People of Freedom party in favor of Mario Monti

Added on November 12, 2011 at 23:58 Italian time
Today, Italy's Lower House has approved the austerity budget agreed upon with EU leaders. Berlusconi has stepped down as prime minister as promised and expected. The most important news however is that Berlusconi's party People of Freedom is in support of Mario Monti as Italy's next prime minister. Earlier, Berlusconi tried to bring in the former prime minister Lamberto Dini, who wisely declined the offer. Berlusconi's ally, the populist Northern League, is against a Monti cabinet of experts and favored Dini. The League's leader, Umberto Bossi, announced that his party will not support Mario Monti's government of experts and will become a force of the opposition. With the current major oppositional party, the center-left Democrats as well as oppositional centrist parties in favor of Mario Monti, the former EU commissioner's election seems assured. Markets can calm down. A serious reformer will lead Italy through this transitional phase. To pay down the Italian debt to a reasonable level however will take roughly a decade.

The Lower House approves the austerity measures too

Added on November 12, 2011 at 18:34 Italian time
The second parliamentarian chamber has also approved the austerity pact. Prime minister Berlusconi can now step down and Mario Monti could step in. However, the ruling coalition is still divided over Monti. Lega Nord boss has not yet decided whether to break with Berlusconi. The 630-seat Chamber voting result: 380 yes, no 26, abstentions 2. The rest did not participate.

Mario Monti will probably be the next prime minister
Added on November 11, 2011 at 14:12 Italian time
The Italian Senate has just approved the reform package law. The Chamber will probably follow by Saturday around 18:00. Berlusconi then may step down as agreed. By Monday, the former European Commissioner Mario Monti could ask parliament to give his newly formed cabinet of experts or his government of unity its approval.

Mario Monti is a well respected economist and president of the famous Bocconi University in Milan. He could calm the markets with his integrity and will to implement structural reforms.

Berlusconi will step down

Added on November 8, 2011 at 21:07 Italian time
According to the Italian State President Napolitano, Prime Minister Berlusconi will step down after the adoption of the reform package demanded by eurozone leaders. Both chambers of the Italian parliament will probably adopt the reform program in November. Italy is too big to fail and too big to be saved. Italy has to save itself.

Berlusconi loses power
Article added on November 8, 2011 at 16:41 Italian time  
Today, the Italian Prime Minister faced a vote on last year's budget plan in the 630-seat lower house. Normally a routine affair, it turned into defeat for Silvio Berlusconi. The budget was approved, but with only 308 parliamentarians voting yes. 321 abstained from voting. Berlusconi loses power. He has no longer a majority.

Dario Franceschini of the oppositional Democratic Party rightly stated in the debate preceding the vote that a true leader would already have stepped down to save his country, his coalition or at least his party.

Signs of Berlusconi's possible loss on Italy's grip of power appeared in the days before the vote. The last nail in the coffin was the midday statement by the leader of the Northern League Umberto Bossi who asked the prime minister to step down. Bossi recommended the General Secretary of Berlusconi's People of Freedom party, Angelino Alfano, as new prime minister. Berlusconi himself had repeatedly referred to Alfano is his successor, although the prime minister always asserted that this would only take place in 2013, the official date of the next parliamentary election.

This morning already, five members of Berlusconi's People of Freedom party had announced that they would abstain from voting on last year's budget plan. Yesterday already, the former showgirl and TV presenter Gabriella Carlucci, who had strongly defended Berlusconi at least until April 2011, left the People of Freedom party to join the oppositional Union of the Centre party of Ferdinando Casini. Another defection came from Enzo Scotti, the current Undersecretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is not clear to me whether he actually stepped down or just threatened to step down because Scotti often lives up to his nickname “Tarzan”, which he deserves for his sudden political changes. The regional president of the People of Freedom party in Lombardy, Roberto Formigoni, said that, already months ago, he had asked Berlusconi to step down for the sake of the country. Even in the newspapers close to Berlusconi, the end of the prime minister was given as certain. The vice-director of Libero, Franco Bechis, twittered that Berlusconi would step down on Monday or Tuesday. Giuliano Ferrara in Il Foglio even went as far as to write that Berlusconi would step down within hours if not minutes. In the end, Berlusconi's loss of grip on power came not quite that fast.

Berlusconi has lost his majority. Will he step down today or ask for a formal vote of confidence to be scheduled as early as today or tomorrow? It was finally his close ally, Umberto Bossi, who told Italy's richest man to step down.

Just a few days ago, Berlusconi had to accept that the IMF will monitor Italy's reform program. This had become necessary because his erratic austerity and reform plans were no longer credible. This morning, Italy's ten-year-bond came at one point with an interest rate of 6,74%! The markets had only one wish, for Berlusconi to step down. In the Corriere della Sera, Sergio Romano titled: “Long agony, additional costs”.

Italy's public debt stands at €1900 billions or 120% of GDP. Italy's sovereign debt is higher than the ones of Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain combined. Markets needed to be reassured.

It is not enough for Berlusconi to step down and to hold early elections. The opposition still lacks unity and a credible alternative program. Until the elections, the Italian parties have to explain to their voters how exactly they want to reform Italy. After the elections, it will be clear who will govern with whom and get a chance to reform Italy.

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