Italy’s Lombardy region, Silvio Berlusconi’s stronghold for 20 years, is the main battleground for February’s national vote, with the Democratic Party pinning victory hopes on the son of a lawyer killed by the Mafia.
Prime Minister Mario Monti is shifting his focus from overhauling Italy’s economy to tackling corruption, a problem highlighted by the recent resignation of one of the country’s best-known political leaders amid a party- financing scandal.
Italian Minister for Reforms Umberto Bossi said early elections are necessary because the country is “stuck in a rut” after one of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s key allies abandoned the ruling coalition.
Umberto Bossi, head of the Northern League party in the governing coalition, said he’s concerned that UniCredit might fall into German control. Bossi, speaking to reporters in Rome, said: “It was feared that Germany would take over the bank but then we saw that they didn’t have the numbers.” Banking foundations which are investors in UniCredit must “organize the defense” of the bank from foreign control, he said.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s surprise nomination of Ignazio Visco to run the Bank of Italy sets up a possible clash with French President Nicolas Sarkozy over the composition of the European Central Bank’s Executive Board.
Italy’s Chamber of Deputies began debate before a vote that will show whether Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has enough support to stay in power and implement austerity measures to trim the euro region’s second- biggest debt and bring down record borrowing costs.
The deepening divisions in Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s coalition over how Italy can meet European Union demands for more robust efforts to tame a $2 trillion debt are fueling calls for early elections.