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Politicians’ Previous Jobs

November 9, 2011 by staff 

Politicians’ Previous Jobs, There’s a certain poetry to the fact that it was economics and not politics that spelled the beginning of the end for Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The flamboyant politician is Italy’s richest citizen, the founder and owner of one of the world’s largest media company, and — for many Italians — the man responsible for making their largely peripheral economy synonymous with end-of-empire decadence.

And there he sat, Tuesday afternoon, clench-jawed at the result of a vote that exposed the depth of his political weakness. The 308 parliamentarians who voted in favor of the routine budget bill were enough to ensure its passage. But the real significance was in the 322, including many from his own party, who declined their support. By evening, Berlusconi had met with Italy’s President Giorgio Napolitano, agreeing to tender his resignation as soon his government passed a series of planned economic reforms, with a vote perhaps scheduled as early as next week.
 

And yet it was nothing the opposition did that cost the sex-scandal ridden prime minister his majority. Over the course of the previous week, Berlusconi had watched his coalition crumble under pressure from the bond markets, as the crisis in Greek shone a harsh Mediterranean light on the c3acks and strains in the Italian economy, one of the most sluggish in the European Union.

With public debt at roughly 120% GDP, the country has been judged to be in desperate need of reforms, most recently by the European Union which last week insisted that Berlusconi agree to a raft of measures that would raise revenue, cut spending and liberalize the economy. And yet, even as markets increased their pressure, prompting the E.U. and the International Monetary fund to pledge their support for the Italian economy, investors were clearly losing confidence in the prime minister’s ability to deliver.

And who could blame them? Berlusconi had promised again and again — ever since his first political campaign — to pass measures that would boost competitiveness, attract foreign investment and open the job market to the one in four young Italians who, not working or studying, have dropped out of the formal labor force altogether. Yet, though Berlusconi has dominated the nation’s political scene since 1994, including as head of government for eight out of the past 10 years, reforms have been few and far between. Over the past decade, the economy has remained nearly flat, trailing the other members of the euro zone by at least a full percentage point.

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