|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||09/11/95, Volume 1, Number 08|
PRIME Minister Lamberto Dini's recent success in defeating a no-confidence motion against his technocratic government has failed to revive hopes that elections in Italy could be postponed until after the country completes its EU presidency at the end of June.
With parliamentary elections now virtually certain to take place in March, Italy is busier with its 'electoral lottery' and choosing candidates for the country's premiership than with EU affairs.
So uncertain is the current Italian political scene that several prominent politicians have suggested that the country's parliament should adopt a resolution outlining the remit any future government would have with regard to EU affairs.
But whatever the outcome of the forthcoming elections, it will be the personality of the new prime minister which will largely determine Italian national politics and consequently the way in which the country will run its stint at the helm of the EU.
Dini's victory over his former boss Silvio Berlusconi, who tabled the motion of no-confidence in the government, has lifted the spirits of the centre-left, which is now looking for a leader who could secure victory in the forthcoming elections.
Official leader of the centre-left bloc, Romano Prodi, is facing the prospect of a challenge from Dini, a former number two at the Bank of Italy.
A question-mark remains over the fate of media magnate and former Prime Minister Berlusconi, although despite recent defeats he seems unshaken in his determination to hold on to his position as leader of the centre-right. However, this self-confidence may waver once his trial on corruption charges begins in Brescia in January. Furthermore, discontent with his leadership is already rife within his centre-right coalition (known as “Il Polo”).
Another alternative to either a centre-left or centre-right government would be a second lease of life for the current legislature and a coalition government encompassing most parties, should the present prime minister manage to secure a new mandate to reform Italy's electoral and institutional system.
A new government led by a technocrat such as Dini or Prodi would impose on the country the politics of sound economic principles, applied through efficient and rigorous administration. In this case, the presidency's top priority would be to forge a place for Italy among the first batch of countries qualifying for economic and monetary union. The pro-EMU drive of both leaders, however, would have to be balanced against the commitment of both the centre-left and centre-right blocs to a welfare state and the virtual impossibility of meeting the 60&percent; public debt criterion.
On the other hand, during its seven months in power, the Berlusconi government amply demonstrated its disregard for the Maastricht criteria. One of the planks of the Berlusconi programme was to neither introduce more taxes nor to raise those already in existence. Former Forza Italia Foreign Affairs Minister Antonio Martino went so far as to question publicly the need for the criteria at all.
A government led by a technocrat would also mean that the current agenda for Italy's EU presidency would be diligently followed. A fear that it may be abandoned has prompted several prominent Italian politicians to suggest the parliament should adopt a resolution setting out the agenda any future government would have to respect on EU affairs.
Italy will have to start the 1996 Intergovernmental Conference (IGC), ensure this month's Euro-Mediterranean conference in Barcelona is followed up and host the next EU-Asian summit scheduled for spring 1996.
Foreign Affairs Minister Susanna Agnelli has spelled out the Italian position as it prepares to oversee the opening of the IGC, saying it will seek to extend qualified majority voting to all non-constitutional issues and reform the system of 'weighted' votes in the Council of Ministers, giving more power to the largest member states.
It will also seek to give the European Parliament legislative powers equal to those of the Council and to reduce the number of Commissioners to one per member state. According to Agnelli, the EU's common foreign and security policy should be given a human face with the appointment of a permanent 'EU foreign affairs minister' and the Western European Union (WEU) should be incorporated into the EU.
The Italian presidency will also emphasise job security and safety, giving a new impetus to the creation of trans-European networks (TENs), and monitor the application of the Fourth Framework Programme for research and development, professional training, the consolidation of the single market, tourism and civil protection.
|Subject Categories||Politics and International Relations|
|Countries / Regions||Italy|