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  • Through careful mediation, President Giorgio Napolitano has succeeded in calming at least some of the troubled waters of political Italy. This is a victory for Italy, for justice, for Premier Enrico Letta's coalition government, but also for the moderates within former Premier Silvio Berlusconi's splintered Freedom Party (PdL), who have been counseling a cautious approach even as an obviously depressed Berlusconi himself launches a new party. "I'd like to grant an amnesty but can't," said Napolitano in essence, while guaranteeing that Berlusconi will not go to prison.
  • At 8:04 pm Silvio Berlusconi, 77-year-old former premier, learned from the TV set in his huge apartment within Palazzo Grazioli, just steps away from Palazzo Venezia in Rome, that the Italian high court, the Cassations, had come down on him, but softly enough that he can breathe a deep sigh of relief. And so can today's left-leaning premier, Enrico Letta, who heads a government in tandem with Berlusconi's Partito della Liberta' (PdL). Convicted to a four-year sentence which is unlikely to be served, he will be retried, however, on the question of his possible interdiction from public office.
  • The news that former Premier Silvio Berlusconi had been convicted to seven years in prison and to lifetime interdiction from public office had Italians of every walk of life and every political persuasion excited today. But there are broader considerations. In past weeks a canny Silvio Berlusconi said again and again that, no matter what the courts decided in the case of the state vs his Bunga Bunga-ing with minors, it would have no effect upon the government. But can this be true? The answer is no.
  • Right and left in Italy agree on the gravity of the problem. "The house is on fire," thundered Angelino Alfano, titular secretary of the rightist Freedom Party (PdL). "Italy is starting to be frightened - yes, frightened," intoned the moderate leftist professor Ernesto Galli della Loggia, writing in Corriere della Sera. Both lament the politicians' failure to move toward formation of a new government. But there agreement ends, and the impasse over what to do to avoid a dangerous power vacuum continues. Fighting to gain time as the end of his mandate approaches, President Giorgio Napolitano has appointed a 10-man committee of "sages" to try to excogitate points of convergence on reforms.
  • One month after Italy's national general elections, Pier Luigi Bersani, leader of the Partito Democratico (PD), is trudging up a political Mount Everest whose peak hides, invisible, in the clouds. When President Giorgio Napolitano tapped him last week to begin testing the ground for creation of a new government, in essence Bersani was asked to resolve the three-way split that pits his PD against both the rightist Liberty Party (PdL) of former Premier Silvio Berlusconi and the forces of self-righteous, angry Beppe Grillo. Can that three-way split be resolved? These are crucial questions as the vote for the the presidency looms a few scant weeks away.
  • Op-Eds
    Judith Harris(October 28, 2012)
    Berlusconi, who has dominated Italian politics for over seventeen years, is not leaving the political scene just yet. What happened?
  • Senator Stefano Pedica posted on his Facebook page a list of the 100 Italian members of the Parliament who have been in office for the longest time. The politicians in the list, as Pedica stated, “have witnessed the growth of Italy’s public debt to EUR 2,000 billion.” A signature gathering to limit the eligibility of MPs after 3 terms of being in service was announced yesterday.
  • Facts & Stories
    Judith Harris(August 13, 2012)
    Ferragosto – the name derives from the original Feriae Augusti summer festival proclaimed by the Emperor Augustus – is a major holiday celebrated on August 15 when all of Italy shuts down, and streets are deserted. This peak of summer holidays is what the media pros call “the silly season,” when reporters are allowed a long leash for gossip in the absence of hard news.
  • Facts & Stories
    Judith Harris(July 27, 2012)
    The upward surge of the spread to today's 506.48 for 10-year bonds (but 519 at the opening of the markets) has reignited interest in holding elections this November, six months ahead of schedule. The emergency premier Mario Monti reportedly told President Giorgio Napolitano Wednesday that, "My government has done what it could." Whether or not these were Monti's precise words, they definitely express a darkening mood.
  • According to the pollsters, Beppe Grillo's share of the Italian electorate amounts to 16%, while Silvio Berlusconi's Partito della Libertà continues to sink like a stone. Meanwhile, the political pundits are suggesting that Mario Monti's government might not last beyond this summer, precipitating elections at least six months ahead of schedule.