4:55pm

Wed November 2, 2011
The Two-Way

With Italy On Verge Of Crisis, Opposition Calls For Berlusconi to Step Down

We've been focusing on Greece, today, but Italy is facing its own crisis: President Silvio Berlusconi called for an emergency meeting to enact a series of reforms meant to keep his country from spiraling into a debt crisis.

The AFP reports:

The emergency meeting will adopt "the most urgent measures" that the prime minister promised European partners at a summit in Brussels last week, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Altero Matteoli told reporters.

The minister did not give further details on the proposals, which would still have to go to parliament for final approval, saying: "We are still writing them and we will try and insert as many measures as possible."

Among the reform measures being discussed are a liberalisation of the professions such as lawyers and dentists to boost competition, a series of major privatisations and an increase in the pension age to 67.

The issue here is that financing is becoming expensive for Italy. The yields on its bonds are at 6.23 percent, when the record high was 6.397 in August. The European Central Bank has told Italy to get its public finances in order, which is what Berlusconi is trying to do ahead of a G20 summit and a day after Italy's markets were hit with what the AFP says was its worst session since the financial crisis in 2008.

Reuters reports that the crisis has also extended into the political realm with Berlusconi's opposition calling for his ouster. Reuters reports:

"We think that next week will be a week in parliament where we try to force the situation if Berlusconi does not resign before," Enrico Letta, deputy general secretary of the party, told Reuters in an interview.

The PD, the largest opposition group in parliament, has called repeatedly for Berlusconi to resign and believes it may have a chance to defeat him because of the economic crisis.

Italy has felt the full force of the euro zone's debt problems which have sent its borrowing costs soaring and threatened to pitch it into a full-scale emergency.

One more sign of Berlusconi's problems, says Reuters, is that yesterday, President Giorgio Napolitano hinted that "he was ready to consider whether there was sufficient backing for a broadly based government of national unity if Berlusconi lost the backing of parliament."

The Financial Times reports that Napolitano doesn't have the authority to oust Berlusconi, "unless the government loses a major parliamentary vote." According to Reuters, Berlusconi holds a tenuous majority in parliament.

On a lighter note, all of this real work is affecting Berlusconi side gig. ABC News reports the crisis has forced Berlusconi to push back the release date of his album, "True Love."

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