Italy. In Italy, Parliament voted during the year through
political reforms that could have profound effects. On the
one hand, the country was given new electoral laws aimed at
giving the country more stable governments, and on the other
it was decided on a constitutional change which means that
the Senate - the Italian upper house - will be abolished in
its current form.
COUNTRYAAH, both of these changes were announced in early 2014 by the
new Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. During his first year in
the office he slaughtered one of the country's holiest cows:
the labor market laws that had hitherto been a strong
protection for the already employed but who were considered
to close the young people out.
In 2015, employment has increased in the country, but
analysts have difficulty saying whether the increase is due
to the new legislation or is related to the upturn in the
economy that Italy has seen after several years of stagnant
or negative development.
During the year, Prime Minister Renzi wrote political
history when he succeeded in enforcing a constitutional
reform that abolishes the Senate in the Italian Parliament.
Unlike other countries with an upper house in their
parliaments, Italy's two chambers have had the same
legislative power, which has meant that every bill has been
bounced back and forth between the Chamber of Deputies and
the Senate. The system has been particularly complicated
when the party political majority has shifted between the
Another historic event occurred in October when the
Italian senators voted for themselves. The 315 elected
senators will now be replaced by 100 representatives of the
country's various regions, and the new upper house will lose
its legislative power. Combined with the new electoral law,
the reform would mean that future governments could rule the
country for the entire five-year term without political
crises. Since the abolition of the Senate in its current
form implies a constitutional change, the law will be
subject to a referendum in 2016.
During the year it became increasingly clear that Silvio
Berlusconi's star has fallen. According to opinion polls,
Berlusconi's party Forza Italia would today receive no more
than about 12% of the vote. At the end of the year,
Berlusconi showed clear signs of wanting to ally its party
with the xenophobic and EU-skeptical Lega Nord, which today
is led by Matteo Salvini.
However, the threat to Renzi's government is greater from
the left-wing populist Five Star Movement (M5S). During the
year the movement has developed into a more traditional
party and its founder, the comedian Beppe Grillo, has
allowed his parliamentarians to act as ordinary politicians.
Having previously communicated solely via the Internet, the
former anti-politicians during the year began to take part
in TV's debates. Political analysts point out that the M5S
today attracts young people on the left who are disappointed
in the ruling center-left party.
During the year, a scandal erupted in Rome that led to
the resignation of the city council to get the mayor to
leave his post. The mayor, the surgeon Ignazio Marino, is
not himself suspected of corruption, but was found not to
have the capacity to deal with criminal politicians from
various parties who have shot at public procurement.