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  • President Sergio Mattarella, New Year's Eve
    In his New Year's speech President Sergio Mattarella praised Italy's politicians for having the legislature last the regulation 5 years. But in national general elections that take place in just 60 days, those with "institutional responsibilities" must each do his share, he said.
  • As the year winds down, Italy looks ahead nervously to political 2018, when national general elections may take place as early as March. The predicted three-way split is almost certain to make forming a new government a challenge.
  • New President of Sicily Region, Nello Musumeci. Courtesy of www.nellomusumeci.it/blog
    In a regional election Sunday in Sicily, a fledgling center-right coalition trounced the center-left, leaving former Premier Matteo Renzi and his party in deep trouble. The vote is seen as a harbinger of things to come when the nation goes to the polls next March.
  • Former President Giorgio Napolitano left office definitively Jan. 14, returning to his home in Rome’s colorful, ancient Monti quarter, a stone’s throw from Trajan’s Forum. His departure after nine turbulent years in office was moving to watch as, in the great courtyard of the Quirinal Palace, he received the formal farewell salute of a horseback brigade in full regalia. Now, with that ritual behind, the less elegant horse trading to elect a successor begins in earnest. Two years ago Napolitano agreed to succeed himself only to break a long political stalemate. The question is whether that stalemate will be repeated, without a Giorgio Napolitano to smooth over a difficult transition
  • Politics grab the headlines, but politics are about people and their day-to-day concerns. So, for a summer’s day change of pace, here are a few of the issues that are troubling—and delighting—Italians today. Among these events: the discovery of an ancient Roman laundry just underground near Piazza Venezia, rare “painted” puppies born in the Rome zoo, the disastrous swap of test tubes at a public hospital, the death of L’Unita’ and—why not—a snippet of unconfirmed but titillating gossip.
  • Giorgio Napolitano has pitted the weight of his presidency and his prestige against the delaying tactics that currently tie the Senate into knots. The introduction of 7,800 amendments to the government’s proposals for constitutional reform is already causing “serious damage” to Italy, said Napolitano Wednesday. Meanwhile, former Premier Silvio Berlusconi once again became a major player after an appeals court overturned his seven- year conviction for alleged relations with a minor accused of prostitution.
  • Who could have guessed that, on the very day Berlusconi was given a light sentence to nine months of occasional social service work, he would be upstaged by his former right-hand man, former Senator Marcello Dell'Utri? Dell'Utri, 72, has been Silvio Berlusconi's good friend and business associate ever since he helped build Berlusconi's TV empire and then his Sicilian political organization back in 1992. But today Dell'Utri seems to have slipped away from Italian justice.
  • It has happened. Despite his kicking and screaming that he is the victim of a coup d'etat promulgated by "red judges", Silvio Berlusconi, 77, was today voted out of the Italian Senate, in a tense roll-call vote late Wednesday afternoon. "It is a day of mourning for democracy," he declared. But it is also the opening gambit in a future election campaign, and already his party, Forza Italia, has formally quit the governing coalition headed by Premier Enrico Letta of the Partito Democratico (PD).
  • He was surely expecting it, but when the latest judiciary act involving former Premier Silvio Berlusconi arrived on Oct. 23, by all accounts it nevertheless came as una tegola in testa--a roof tile dropped on his head. This latest incrimination, which will bring Berlusconi to trial before a penal court on Feb. 11, is for vote-buying and is no less serious than the others--on the contrary. Berlusconi, already convicted of tax fraud, obviously fears time in prison, however unlikely. Coincidentally, the Italian supreme Cassations court has just cleared Sophia Loren, who did spend time in prison, for alleged tax dodging.
  • His face drawn and pale despite the heavy pancake makeup, Senator Silvio Berlusconi addressed the Italian people in a video message in which he promised, "I will always be with you." The video was released on Wednesday, shortly after a 16-member Senate commission in Rome voted to strip the former Premier of his Senate status on grounds of his conviction in August by the Cassations court, Italy's highest, for tax fraud. At any rate, he declared, "I am absolutely innocent" and, despite the "planned aggression of the judges," it is possible to be a politician even if not in Parliament. Most importantly, however, in the video--which by all accounts was revised again and again before its release--he did not indicate that his "Freedom Party" (Partito della Liberta', PdL) would throw Italy into chaotic instability and new elections by its exit from the government.

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