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Yearbook 2010

2010 ItalyItaly. A serious crack occurred during the year in Silvio Berlusconi's government, and its future was uncertain. According to COUNTRYAAH, the controversial leader's popularity continued to decline, partly as a result of new revelations about contacts with very young women. Close employees began to criticize Berlusconi's inability to solve the country's problems.

The year began with a couple of serious clashes with immigrants involved. In the city of Rosarno, Calabria, armed Italian youths attacked African farmers on January 7, injuring two of them. Enraged Africans later drove through the city, burning cars and smashed windows. They are attacked by city dwellers armed with iron bars and skiers. About fifty people were injured during three days of riots. Over 1,000 immigrants were then evacuated from the city and placed in refugee camps.

2010 Italy

In mid-February, a young Egyptian died after a knife attack in Milan, according to police conducted by South American immigrants. It was followed by violent riots in an immigrant-dense area, and four Egyptians were arrested by the police.

In Italy, too, the debate about comprehensive veils was ongoing. At local level, bans can be introduced, and in April, for the first time, a Muslim woman was fined in Italy for her dress. This took place in the city of Novara, where a local regulation had been adopted on the initiative of the mayor, who belongs to the immigrant-critical party Nordförbundet (Lega Nord, LN).

With Parliament in support, Berlusconi continued to be successful in his many years of "struggle" with the country's courts. At the beginning of the year, a law was passed that shortens the time before a crime is prescribed. The intention was stated to be to rectify the long-drawn out legal processes, but according to the opposition, the aim was to protect Berlusconi from future processes. And in February, the Supreme Court upheld a verdict against attorney David Mills. He was convicted in 2009 for falsely testifying in 1997 after bribes to protect Berlusconi in two cases of corruption and fraud. The judgment against Mills was dismissed on the grounds of a 10-year limitation period.

Another new team directly benefited Berlusconi. In February, Parliament had approved that government members could request that legal proceedings be postponed for up to 18 months because they were too preoccupied with government work. The two planned corruption processes against Berlusconi were therefore postponed in the future.

Berlusconi's Coalition of the People's Freedom (PdL) and LN achieved success in the elections held in March in 13 of the country's 20 regions. They already ruled in two regions, which was now expanded by four taken from the left opposition, the Democratic Party (PD). In total, the left got 26 percent and PdL close to 27 percent of the votes, while support for LN doubled to 12.3 percent compared to 2005.

A battle over the political media coverage flared up before the election. The government-dominated body that oversees the state broadcaster RAI decided that the most popular debate programs were allowed to discuss politics the month before the election only if the program time was moved to late evening or early morning, when viewership is low. Despite the new rules, Berlusconi appeared in all major TV channels with a speech to the voters just a few days before the election.

New corruption havens were revealed during the year, and in May, Industry Minister Claudio Scajola resigned because of a bribery deal with a construction company. Many of the scandals have come out since eavesdropping phone calls leaked to media. The leaks have often been embarrassing for the government, which in June presented a bill that severely limits the police's right to interception in criminal investigations and the press's ability to publish the news. The Senate approved the law, but it faced harsh criticism from prosecutors investigating serious crimes.

A long-standing political dispute between Berlusconi and his PdL colleague Gianfranco Fini became acute in July, when Fini was forced to leave the party after a series of harsh, mutual accusations. Berlusconi then tried to remove Fini from the post of Speaker of the House of Commons. Fini, who approached social liberalism politically, had long opposed the PdL, including on the issue of the new interception law. The background to the conflict was assumed to be Fini's ambitions to take over after the increasingly popular prime minister.

Fini formed his own parliamentary group, and Berlusconi no longer had a majority. But in a vote of confidence in August, Fini's supporters cast their votes, which saved the government. After the summer break, the government requested a vote of confidence in September on a five-point reform program. This time, Fini's faction was persuaded to vote for the reforms, as did Umberto Bossis LN. In November, however, Fini had tired of Berlusconi and withdrew his ministers from the government. In December, however, Berlusconi was able to win a decisive vote by a three-vote margin. The reason was considered that many politicians did not want to risk a new election.

During the international economic crisis, Italy has performed relatively well, despite Europe's highest indebtedness (around 116 per cent of GDP), extensive tax evasion and low productivity. As a reason, it has been stated that the country has had a weak economy for almost 20 years and has already made major cuts in welfare. The banks are heavily regulated, and no mortgage crisis exists. The Italians save heavily and have lent large sums to cover the government's debt. However, the government adopted a savings package during the year with the aim of reducing the budget deficit to below three percent in 2012.

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