Politics

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Despite Decisive Victory, Italian Premier Faces Steep Challenges

April 17, 2008 12:00 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
A faltering economy and a public with little faith that the government can fix it await Silvio Berlusconi’s new center-right coalition.

30-Second Summary

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Having won Italy’s highest office for the third time at the age of 71, Silvio Berlusconi faces a wealth of challenges, including Europe’s slowest growing economy and a government bureaucracy that many feel bogs down any hope of real development.

Elected to office after the center-left government of Romano Prodi collapsed and two years after he himself resigned, Berlusconi has pledged to take on the economic uncertainty that has threatened to remove Italy from the G8 group of countries.

Taking aim at the most visible example of government failure, Berlusconi has promised to hold his first cabinet meeting in the city of Naples, the site of a massive sanitation strike that has left its streets full of garbage.

Claiming a majority in both houses of parliament, Berlusconi has pledged to streamline the legislative process in hopes of giving a boost to a nearly stagnant Italian economy.

However, critics have pointed to a lack of government reform during the media mogul’s first two terms as reason to suspect any pledges as nothing more than empty political rhetoric.

They also point to the premier’s courting of far-right groups, such as the staunchly anti-immigrant Northern League to obtain a winning coalition as a sign that Berlusconi’s government will represent a far more conservative platform than many might expect.

Headline Links: Economic hurdles ahead

Background: A steady fall since 2000

Reactions: A more streamlined government

Opinion & Analysis: Questions on past and peers

Key Players: Silvio Berlusconi

Reference: A roller-coaster political career

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