Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 32 n° 250

Posts Tagged ‘protests’

Berlusconi scrapes through a parliamentary confidence vote

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 17 dicembre 2010

December 14th had several faces in Italy. Silvio Berlusconi, the prime minister, kept his conservative government alive by narrowly winning votes of condence in both houses of parliament. There was an ugly riot in Rome and student protests in several other cities. How far these events were linked will doubtless be the subject of heated debates in Italy over Christmas dinner tables. But one thing is clear: December 14th was not a great day for Italy’s parliamentary democracy. The showdown in the legislature brought to a head a crisis that had been brewing since July, when followers of Mr Berlusconi’s former ally and deputy, Gian- franco Fini (the speaker of the lower-house Chamber of Deputies), renounced the gov- ernment whip to form a parliamentary group of their own, under the name Future and Freedom for Italy (FLI). In this week’s
vote in the Senate, where the FLI ab- stained, Mr Berlusconi won a comfortable 27-seat majority. But in the chamber, he squeaked through by a mere three votes. The condence votes were held against abackground of opposition claims that Italy’s billionaire prime minister had secured his margin by buying support, either with promises of high oce or with cash. In the upper house, four senators switched their votes at the last minute. In the chamber, no fewer than ten deputies shifted allegiance. Crucially, they included three of Mr Fini’s ready who would probably have tried to cause mayhem whatever the outcome. Indeed, they rst clashed with the police almost an hour before the announcement ofthe result of the lower-house vote. There were student protests in several other cities, but none occasioned violence on the scale of that in Rome. An isolated bout of hooliganism? Or a warning of the trouble in store in a country that faces stagnation, with an economy that has barely grown for a decade and in which politics remains blocked? Mr Berlusconi said that the vote showed that there was no alternative to the existing governing majority, made up of his People of Freedom (PdL) movement and Umberto Bossi’s Northern League. He was partly right, and would have been even had the vote gone the other way. Mr Fini had vowed not to betray his own right- wing voters by forming a new majority with the opposition (even though he was content to vote with Mr Berlusconi’s adversaries to try to bring down his government not the least of the inconsistencies
in a man who wants to remain speaker of the chamber while heading its most contentious faction). But Mr Berlusconi was wrong to imply that he himself now leads anything but a minority government. The 314 votes he secured in the lower house fell two short of the absolute majority needed to guarantee the passage of legislation.That should point to a fresh election next year. But none of the main political leaders, except Mr Bossi, wants one. Mr Berlusconi’s poll ratings are lower than at any time since he returned to oce in 2008. Mr Fini has yet to turn the FLI into a formal party, let alone build it into a force that could put up a decent showing at a general election. And Italy’s biggest opposition group, the centre-left Democratic rebels. When the third unexpectedly voted for the government, putting Mr Berlusconi’s victory beyond doubt, there was uproar. Ushers had to step in to prevent deputies from coming to blows. The defectors no doubt included some who were acting on grounds of principle. Mr Berlusconi had argued in the debate before the votes that it would be folly to unseat his government at a time when Italy and its huge public debt were coming under increasing scrutiny in nervous European bond markets. But his supporters barely troubled to deny the widespread allegations of vote-buying. A representative of a small regional party that had once be- longed to the ruling majority likened the atmosphere in the chamber before the votes to that of a cattle market. Such claims only added to the frustration of the government’s opponents. This may have fuelled some of the violence in Rome, where aming barricades were thrown up, shop and bank windows were smashed, cars were torched and police were beaten by groups of protesters. More than 100 people were injured, including around 50 police. The rioting followed a peaceful march by a coalition of the disgruntled, including students protesting at reforms and cuts in higher education, earthquake victims, trade unionists, diehard communists and knots of hooded gures with masks at the Silvio Berlusconi survives Clinging on For daily analysis and debate on Europe, visit Party, is wary of losing further ground to two more radical movements: the vigor- ously anti-Berlusconi Italy of Principles party and an alliance led by the governor of Puglia, Nichi Vendola, that includes greens, minority-rights campaigners and a bunch of ex-Marxists. Mr Berlusconi initially reacted to his narrow victory by declaring that he would try to broaden his majority. He had in mind the Union of the Centre (UDC), a party of conservative Christian Democrats that was in his previous government between 2001 and 2006. But the UDC’s leader, Pier Ferdinando Casini, promptly turned down the idea. His no may yet turn out to be a not unless. But the UDCwould not be an ideal coalition partner: it caused Mr Berlusconi endless trouble last time round. The alternative, though, could be worse. The prime minister talked of wooing individual deputies, and predicted that some of Mr Fini’s fellow-rebels would soon desert him. But politicians who it between parties scarcely oer a basis on which to run a stable government. Mr Berlusconi would doubtless soon nd himself lurching between crises as he patched to- gether majorities day by day and measure by measure. His best hope would then be to keep going until there are some signs of a recovery both in the economy and in his own ratings. Mr Fini is the most obvious loser this week, unable either to oust Mr Berlusconi or to keep control of his own followers. But the prime minister has also been gravely weakened. Unless he can strike an improbable deal with the UDC, an election next year still looks likely (the economist)

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Global climate protests

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 12 dicembre 2009

Copenhagen. Half-way through the critical UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen —  where delegates and world leaders are negotiating the future of the planet — more than 500 civil society groups  supported  the ‘Real Deal Global Day of Action’ event  demanding a fair, ambitious and legally binding treaty to avert catastrophic climate change. In Copenhagen, Greenpeace volunteers from 32 countries along with thousands other protestors peacefully marched from Christiansborg Slotsplads at the Danish Parliament to the Bella Center where the UN climate summit is taking place to urge world leaders to show far greater political courage and commitment to tackling climate change. The protestors will deliver seventeen giant ship sails bearing climate messages and images to Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in the ‘Climate Rescue Station’ at Bella Center. The march will culminate in a candlelight vigil at the UN summit tonight. Earlier today in Australia, about 80,000 people took part in a ‘walk against warming’, while in Hong Kong, about a thousand people participated in a 3-legged walk. In Beijing drums, historically used in China to sound the time, were played at the Yongdimen gate to remind leaders that time to reach a fair, ambitious and legally binding climate deal is running out. Despite some key industrialised countries lowering expectations for a deal in Copenhagen, the first week of the talks has been dominated by a determined push for a legally binding agreement by developing countries which are literally fighting for their survival.

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