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Another chink in the wall! PDF Print E-mail
Jun 14, 2011 at 03:53 PM

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A Blow to the Heart (Quorum/Cuore)
Italian voters delivered yet another blow to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi this weekend when they disregarded his advice to boycott a series of popular referenda designed to overturn several recent controversial laws. There is not expected to be any immediate direct effect on Mr. Berlusconi's stay in office, but the outcome - it was the first time since 1996 that enough people went to the polls to meet the 50% quorum that would make the referenda valid - makes it clear that much of the country is now on a different wave length from its chief of government.

The unexpected rout - many here believed the quorum would not be met - came hard on the heals of the defeat suffered by Berlusconi and his party in elections only two weeks ago for the mayors of several key cities including Milan and Naples. Observers here are convinced that Berlusconi's grip has been seriously weakened and wonder if he will soon face a defection by the unfortunately powerful Northern League, his principal ally.

The final results as they came in on Monday (Italian elections are always held on Sunday and Mondays) mean that voters have voters overturned a law that would have restarted Italy's nuclear program (nipped in the bud by another referendum 24 years ago but recently re-introduced by the Berlusconi government, one which permitted the privatization of local water supplies, and another that granted him and other high-ranking government officials immunity from prosecution.

This latter  means that Berlusconi ought now not to be able to avoid showing up in several pending court cases, including that in which he is charged with having sex with a minor and then abusing his office to get her released from jail when she was arrested on a theft charge.

But most pundits - along with Italy's opposition parties - are putting most of the emphasis on the fact that so many Italians disregarded a publicly announced decision by both Berlusconi and many of his top cabinet members that they would not be going to the polls. Of those who voted, between 94 and 95.5% voted to abrogate the laws, that is, they voted against Berlusconi and his government. (Dare I say it again? "Yippee!")



 

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