Collapsed government coalition in Italy: save the reputation

Italy’s ruling coalition has burst. Prime Minister Conte now needs new allies. It’s about a lot of money – and Italy’s reputation.

Can he continue to rule? Italy’s Prime Minister Conte in Rome on January 15th Photo: Remo Casilli / reuters

Perhaps Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will do the trick. His coalition has come to an end thanks to the departure of the small Italia Viva party under Matteo Renzi – but his government may remain in office. Making Renzi redundant and isolating it, looking for new supporters in parliament: Conte relies on this tactic, with the full support of the two big parties in the alliance, the Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S) and the Partito Democratico (PD), but also the small radical ones left list Liberi e Uguali (LeU – Free and Equals).

Next week Conte wants to face the vote of confidence in both houses, and then it will show whether his plan works out, whether he thwarted Renzi’s calculations, which started the government crisis in order to become the central actor in Italian politics again, even though he only had one Three percent party dictates.

Conte could then continue once. This is good news, because the pandemic has picked up speed again in Italy in recent months – not exactly the best time to tie up political energy in lengthy coalition negotiations or after a parliamentary dissolution in the election campaign. Above all, however, it is good news because the Italian government has to present its detailed reconstruction plan by April 30 if it wants to receive the 209 billion euros from the European “Next Generation EU” fund on time.

In this delicate phase, not only a huge amount of money is at stake, but also Italy’s reputation in Europe. The launch of the mega-plan “Next Generation EU” including joint European borrowing embodies a real turning point in the Union, which – unlike in the euro crisis – discovered solidarity. This was only possible because the Conte government was perceived in the European capitals as a reliable, pro-European partner.

Only the fear of new elections, of Salvini’s triumph, can now ensure Conte’s survival

The former Prime Minister and former EU Commission President Romano Prodi commented that he was “really worried” this time, because not only the resignation of a government was threatened, but “the resignation of a country”. Enrico Letta, head of government from 2013 to 2014, took the same line before the then PD chairman Matteo Renzi dumped him, just as he now wants to dump Conte. Thanks to Renzi, Letta etched, Italy once again provided “the image of the still unreliable country, pizza, spaghetti, mandolin”.

This danger would only be averted once Conte succeeded in securing his majority for the coalition by recruiting oppositional center-MPs. And the EU would be spared the nightmare of seeing Trump fan Matteo Salvini from the Lega in the office of Prime Minister after new elections.

But the emerging new coalition is neither strong nor closed. In the best case scenario, Conte can count on a wafer-thin majority in the Senate, guaranteed by parliamentarians, who can blackmail him in the future just like Renzi. In addition, the largest coalition partner M5S is in a deep crisis. In 2018, the five stars won almost 33 percent with their anti-establishment and Eurosceptic rhetoric. The current opinion polls see them cut in half.

The M5S is now firmly pro-European, but what the movement actually wants in the future is not clear to itself. As in the early days of the German Greens, the Realos are faced with a Fundi wing that the coalition sees as too tight a corset. This wing could still cause trouble for Conte and the coalition. Only the fear of new elections, of Salvini’s triumph, can secure Conte’s survival. This fear may buy him time to move on. But he must also use this time; otherwise Salvini’s victory would only be postponed.

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Government crisis in Italy: coalition burst

Former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s Italia Viva party is leaving the government. The ways out of the crisis are open. New elections also seem possible now.

Matteo Renzi, head of the small center party Italia Viva. This left the coalition on Wednesday Photo: Reuters

ROM taz | Italy’s ruling coalition under Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has burst. On Wednesday evening Matteo Renzi, head of the small center party Italia Viva, appeared in front of the press with the two ministers and the state secretary of his formation and announced their resignation from their government offices.

Renzi, himself head of government from 2014-2016, ends the five-week coalition tussle that he himself initiated in December. Primarily he was concerned with the use of the 209 billion euro package that Italy received from the EU program “Next Generation EU”. In addition, Renzi originally had major objections to the six-member body that should control the use of these funds and should report directly to Prime Minister Conte.

Renzi was largely able to prevail on both points. The committee of six was canceled, and the coalition made improvements in the planned allocation of funds for reconstruction in Renzi’s terms.

On Tuesday evening, the cabinet passed the reconstruction plan – and both Renzi’s ministers abstained. The reason they cite not so much concerns about the plan, but that the government does not want to call up an additional 37 billion from the European Stability Mechanism.

Saddle up one more

This was precisely the tactic of the small party Italia Viva in the past weeks and days: to saddle up one more thing every time Contes and the other coalition partners made a concession. Renzi complained, among other things, that the government should kindly also initiate the construction of the Messina bridge – it would connect Sicily to the mainland.

Therefore the impression is obvious that Renzi wanted to work towards the overthrow of the popular Conte from the start. Conte, however, was able to unite the three other coalition partners – the anti-establishment movement of the Five Stars, the moderately left Partito Democratico, from which Renzis Italia Viva split off in autumn 2019, and the radical left Liberi e Uguali list.

But Renzi was not impressed by his isolation in the coalition either. The former Prime Minister and President of the EU Commission Romano Prodi commented in a TV interview on Tuesday evening that Renzi wanted the break at all costs, and if necessary he would also demand the construction of “a bridge to Sardinia”.

And President Sergio Mattarella leaked “horror and dismay” on Tuesday about the coalition conflict in the middle of the pandemic, which in no way takes “the real country” into account.

Multiple options

But even these votes could not dissuade Renzi from breaking the coalition. It is now completely open which ways there are out of the crisis. Conte could try to compensate for the missing votes from the ranks of the Italia Viva by recruiting other center politicians without even submitting his resignation.

The second option would be his resignation with new coalition negotiations. The other partners are not thinking of sacrificing Conte as prime minister for the time being, as Renzi would like. A third way out would be a technocratic government with all-party consensus, which, however, does not want the Five Stars or the Partito Democratico. This could mean that new elections could be held at the end of the government crisis.

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Italy: Government crisis could stifle recovery

Rome, Brussels If there is one thing Italy cannot afford at the moment, it is a crippling power vacuum: a nine percent economic slump, national debt rises to one and a half times economic output, companies are unproductive, health and education systems are underfinanced. But Italy’s ex-prime minister Matteo Renzi has now pushed his country into this power vacuum when he left the ruling coalition with his small party Italia Viva.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte tries to avoid new elections, speaks to possible new supporters who could secure him a majority in the Italian parliament. Renzi and his two ministers terminated the alliance with the Social Democrats and the Five Star Movement on Wednesday evening because they could not agree on the amount and use of the European aid money, which Italy’s economy urgently needs. The payment of the same aid could now be delayed considerably.

There is now also a big question mark behind the next national Corona aid package for companies particularly affected by the pandemic. The companies that were already hard hit would suffer. The companies had hoped for a quick upswing after the sharp slump last year. That could now be strangled by political squabbles. Even the specter of new elections is already haunted, which could bring the country a broad right-wing majority – with the League of ex-Interior Minister Matteo Salvini as leader.

“The clock is ticking for Italy,” says Markus Ferber, economic policy spokesman for the EPP group in the European Parliament. The later Rome submits a satisfactory development plan to Brussels, the longer it will take for the funds to arrive in Italy – “those responsible in the Italian government should be aware of this”.

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There is great concern in the EU about the break in the coalition. “Especially in the pandemic it is important that Italy has a government capable of acting,” says the CSU politician.

Debts grow by 22 million euros – per hour

The political crisis hits Italy in an economically extremely fragile phase. The country has still not recovered from the euro crisis in more than ten years. According to estimates by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Italy’s economic strength will not have reached the pre-crisis level of 2008 even in 2025.

The national debt has stubbornly stuck to around 135 percent of economic output in recent years. None of the governments has managed to get down from the huge mountain of debt, which is now over 2.5 trillion euros.

graphic

Then came the pandemic. Debt grows and grows – currently by 22 million euros per hour. As a result of the corona crisis, it will rise to more than 160 percent of gross domestic product, the IMF estimates. Italy would soon be playing in a league with countries like Eritrea and Lebanon. In Europe only the Greeks exceed this debt level.

graphic

The eighth largest economy in the world was hit particularly hard by Corona. More than 80,000 people have died from or with the virus. In relation to the number of inhabitants, only Belgium has an even higher death rate worldwide. The military vehicles that transported coffins en masse through Lombardy in the spring are etched into the country’s memory forever.

The lockdown that Premier Conte imposed for more than two months in March was one of the toughest in Europe – including a production freeze for most companies. The manufacturing industry has recovered to some extent and is optimistic about the coming months.

Tourism, which normally contributes a good 14 percent to the gross domestic product with its suppliers, almost came to a standstill last year. The industry association Federturismo is assuming a decline in sales of 80 percent compared to the previous year for hotels alone.

Due to the political quarrels, the payment of what is now the fifth Corona aid package for industries particularly suffering from the pandemic could be delayed. The government wants to adopt a supplementary budget for this, around 24 billion more than previously are planned, including for the procurement of further vaccines. However, experts assume that a resigned government would no longer be able to propose such a large sum to parliament.

The great hope rests on further vaccines

Italy’s economy contracted sharply last year. The latest estimates assume a minus of almost nine percent. For this year, the economists from the statistical institute Istat expect a plus of four percent. However, the unemployment rate is also expected to rise, from 9.4 to eleven percent.

One of the reasons for this: In April, the cancellation ban imposed by the government at the beginning of the pandemic expires. After all, private consumption makes optimistic: While the Italians initially put their money aside during the crisis and drove the savings rate of private households to 19 percent at times, they have been spending more again since September. The stricter corona regulations in winter mainly affect retailers again.

graphic

The corona vaccinations started at least give hope that the pandemic will end soon. Italy wants all its citizens to be immunized by autumn. This calculation will only work if the vaccine candidates from Astra-Zeneca and Johnson & Johnson are also approved in the summer. There are many uncertainties, to which the political one is now added.

“The current economic situation in Italy is characterized by the pandemic and uncertainty about the future”, says Jörg Buck, head of the German-Italian Chamber of Commerce in Milan. “What our companies need now is a strategy for the reconstruction plan and its implementation so that Italy and its European partners, especially Germany, can return to growth.”

Italy urgently needs the money from Brussels to tackle decades-old problems: the health system is just as underfunded as education. Business productivity is far too low. The administration works too inefficiently and too analog. Italy ranks at the bottom of the Digital Economy and Society Index, only ahead of Romania, Greece and Bulgaria. Digital signatures are hardly possible, there is a lot of paperwork at the offices.

The judiciary works too slowly, and many processes simply become statute-barred. At the same time, youth unemployment is almost 30 percent.

Renzi flashed a glimmer of hope

“Without national plans, which reforms are to be financed with 200 billion EU funds in Italy, and appropriate controls, no money can flow,” warns Andreas Schieder, head of the Austrian Social Democrats delegation in the European Parliament.

It is worrying for the entire Union if a country like Italy cannot benefit from the gigantic aid program – “and so falls behind in the reconstruction”. The inadequate productivity rates could not be remedied by European monetary and fiscal policy alone, warns the FDP MEP Moritz Körner.

Renzi let through at least one glimmer of hope, despite all the dissent: As soon as the government’s reconstruction plan is voted on, his party Italia Viva would vote in favor. It will soon become clear whether Prime Minister Conte can really still trust his old partner: the use of EU aid will be debated in parliament on Monday.

Italy has proven over decades that it has always been able to spend EU money despite regular government crises, says MEP Körner. But even if Parliament were to wave through the spending list, there is fear in Italy that Brussels will not be able to pay off in the middle of a vacuum.

More: Italy must avoid new elections at all costs – one comment

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Italy’s Prime Minister Conte must avoid new elections

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte

If the non-party Conte wants to prevent new elections, he must quickly find new supporters in parliament. Italia Viva provides 25 of the 630 parliamentarians in the lower house and 18 of the 315 senators.

(Photo: Reuters)

Rom Matteo Renzi has to endure a lot of malice on Twitter. Under the hashtag #Renzivergogna (in German: Renzi Schande), the 46-year-old is shown either as a riot in the US Capitol or as a baby with building blocks – which are not from Lego, but from “L’ego” – Italian for “the ego “.

The former prime minister has dominated Italian politics for weeks: with threats, ultimatums and personal attacks on his successor Giuseppe Conte. It is still a mystery what the leader of the dwarf party Italia Viva actually wants. What is clear is only what he does not want: to continue to support the current government. On Wednesday evening, Renzi dropped his political bomb – and withdrew his two ministers from the cabinet after the dispute over EU aid. In the middle of the health crisis, which has already caused almost 80,000 corona deaths, Renzi is now giving the country a political one.

The current situation is difficult to convey to the Italian people. According to a survey by the polling institute Ipsos, 46 percent of citizens do not understand the government crisis. 73 percent of those surveyed believe that Renzi is only pursuing his personal interests – or those of his party. Just 13 percent think that the ex-prime minister is acting in the interests of the country.

The senator from Florence was right in his criticism of the content: Italy’s first draft for the EU reconstruction fund was not very ambitious, included too many old projects, and had no clear focus on investments. The new version that the cabinet decided after Renzi’s Christmas threats is definitely the better one. Renzi could have booked that as a success. But he bit into the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), the billions of which he wanted to tap for the health system. It was clear from the start that the co-governing five-star movement would not move away from its no to the ESM.

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Right block at 46 percent

Prime Minister Conte now has to find a new majority in both chambers of parliament. Even if there are MPs there who do not belong to any parliamentary group, some opposition politicians are likely to be needed for an “alliance of those responsible”. Alternatively, there is already speculation about a non-partisan government of experts, which President Sergio Mattarella could convene.

If none of these scenarios work, the country would face new elections. The opposition is already scratching its feet. According to a survey on Monday, which the TV broadcaster “La7” commissioned, the right-wing populist Lega around former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini would be the strongest force in parliament with 23 percent. Even the right-wing national Fratelli d’Italia would get 17 percent more votes than the five-star rating. In addition, there would be around six percent of Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative Forza Italia. With a total of 46 percent, the way is not far to a right-wing majority.

That would not be good news for Europe and the world. Under Conte, the country has shown itself to be a reliable partner. The non-party lawyer appeared as a persistent negotiator vis-à-vis Brussels, especially in the dispute over the Corona development fund. Nevertheless, he was always pro-European, emphasizing several times that Europe owed the historic opportunity to be able to redesign the country with the many billions.

In the right-wing bloc, on the other hand, there are EU skeptics like Salvini, who has already proclaimed the “Italexit” based on the British model and railed against migrants, plus a party leader in Fratelli leader Giorgia Meloni who has never officially distanced herself from fascism. The ray of hope in this trio would then actually be an 84-year-old political warrior whose party demands more political competencies for Europe and works with the CDU in the EU Parliament: Silvio Berlusconi.

More: Matteo Renzi’s party withdraws from the government. Why the center-left coalition broke up.

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Christmas lockdown: Greece faces new debt problem

An elderly man walks down an empty street in Athens

The country has been in lockdown again since November 7th. How much longer, nobody knows.

(Photo: dpa)

Athens As in this pre-Christmas period, Omonia Square in Athens has not shone for a long time. Spotlights illuminate the newly installed water fountains in the center of the square. A golden star shines on the top of the large Christmas tree. The streets all around are also bathed in festive light. Athens’ new mayor Kostas Bakogiannis has pulled out all the stops.

But the festive picture is deceptive. Few people are out and about. Cafés and shops are closed. In the evening there is no longer a soul on the streets. Because at 9 p.m. the night curfew begins. It looks similar to Omoniaplatz on Hermes Street, Athens’ traditional shopping mile: glittering Christmas decorations, but closed shops. Corona has Greece firmly under control.

After the Greeks mastered the pandemic in spring better than most other European countries thanks to early contact bans, they are now hit by the second wave with even greater force. The country has been in lockdown again since November 7th. How much longer, nobody knows.

Because the restrictions have so far hardly had any effect. Of the 121,253 infections detected in Greece since the end of February, 83,121 have occurred since the beginning of November. The picture is similar with the deaths: 3370 people have so far died of or with Corona, more than three quarters of them in November and December.

The government has therefore extended the lockdown until January 7th. This is a disaster for retailers. Many businesses generate a third of their annual sales or more during the Christmas season.
The lockdown will hit the catering trade even harder, as it had to close for several weeks in the spring. The 80,000 restaurants, taverns and cafes employ around 330,000 people. “Of the 366 days of this year, we have only been open 151,” the restaurant association in Thessaloniki in northern Greece calculates. Of the approximately 5,500 companies in the industry, 1,500 will not survive this year, estimates the association official Michalis Epitropidis.

Greece had only just begun to recover from the eight-year recession it fell into during the debt crisis. Now the second lockdown throws the Greeks far back. In the third quarter, the gross domestic product fell by 11.7 percent year-on-year. That was the most violent break-in of all EU countries.

Finance minister expects a bigger economic slump than 2011

The Greek parliament is due to vote on the budget for 2021 next Tuesday. Finance Minister Christos Staikouras has had to revise his plan several times. At the beginning of October, Staikouras put in his first draft for this year the decline in GDP at 8.2 percent – now he expects a minus of 10.5 percent. Greece’s economy did not plunge that deeply, even in 2011, the worst year of the crisis.

The outlook for 2021 has also deteriorated. Instead of a plus of 7.5 percent, the government now only expects a recovery of 4.8 percent.

The rating agency Scope is a little more cautious. It forecasts Greece for the coming year growth of four percent. Scope analyst Jakob Suwalski considers this a success: “Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the government has made progress in reforming important areas, which supports the positive outlook for the economy.” The fiscal measures to support the economy also deceive recovery says the Greece expert.

Finance Minister Staikouras is pumping billions into the economy to cushion the effects of the corona recession, support failing companies and save jobs at risk. Aid so far this year has totaled 23.9 billion euros, and next year the government wants to loosen another 7.5 billion euros. The sum of 31.4 billion corresponds to almost 20 percent of this year’s GDP.

For the support measures, the finance minister can draw on funds from the EU programs Pepp and Sure as well as on his own reserves. However, he has to finance the majority in advance through higher new borrowing.

Police officers control a ban on gatherings in Athens

As soon as the pandemic is over, the debt will “go down relatively steeply,” says a financial expert.

(Photo: dpa)

Greece already has the highest mountain of debt of all EU countries. As a result of shrinking economic output and new loans, the debt ratio will hit a new record at the end of this year at around 209 percent of GDP. But that doesn’t seem to worry investors. The yield on ten-year Greek government bonds fell to a new record low of 0.57 percent during trading on Friday. That was the lowest level since Greece introduced the euro in 2001.

Scope analyst Suwalski also sees no problems with the sustainability of the Greek national debt. Thanks to a liquidity buffer of over 30 billion euros, the country’s financing needs are covered for the next two years, Suwalski calculates. As soon as the pandemic is over, the debt will “go down relatively steeply,” says the expert. He predicts a decline in the debt ratio to 160 percent of GDP in 2025.

Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg Bank, also sees no relapse into the debt trap for the country: “Given the very low financing costs, the debts are sustainable,” says Schmieding.

The “growth-friendly economic policy of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis”, says the economist, also contributes to some relief. Schmieding sees good prospects for tourism, which contributed around a fifth to GDP last year and was thus the most important pillar of the Greek economy: “After the harsh winter, many northern Europeans will probably seek the sun even more than usual.”

The Berenberg chief economist thinks nothing of a waiver of corona-related national debt, as the Italian five-star movement is now demanding from the European Central Bank. “Greece does not need a haircut,” Schmieding notes and warns: “Even a serious discussion about it would be poison for the confidence of investors.”

More: Greece threatens the corona emergency – government confiscates private clinics

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CEO Jean Pierre Mustier has to go

Jean Pierre Mustier

The CEO of the major Italian bank Unicredit was actually considered a successful restructuring company.

(Photo: Reuters)

Rom Unicredit boss Jean Pierre Mustier is leaving the major Italian bank. It had become clear in the past few months that his ideas on strategy were not in line with those of the board of directors, Mustier said on Monday evening. Mustier and the bank agreed that he would leave after his contract expired in April.

The Frenchman has been at the helm of the “pan-European” bank, as Mustier Unicredit likes to call it in interviews, since July 2016. The former paratrooper pushed through tough austerity measures at the mother of the German Hypovereinsbank. After speculation about the disposal, the share lost almost five percent by the end of the market.

For months there has been speculation about the possible extension of the contract. However, it was about more than Mustier’s personnel, it was about the fundamental orientation of the bank. On the one hand, Mustier’s strict rejection of takeovers and mergers, which he only repeated when the quarterly figures were presented at the beginning of November: “There are no prerequisites for takeovers, we are sticking to our program of organic growth.”

In addition, Mustier ruled out a spin-off of Unicredit’s foreign activities into its own holding, which had been speculated about. “This is still a project, but we have no plans to continue working on it,” he said.

Above all, this project, to separate the Italian business and foreign business and to create a separate unit for the German and Austrian subsidiaries, has met with resistance and criticism right up to the board of directors, it is now said. In addition, Mustier had to forego the distribution of a dividend because of the pandemic.

New owner wanted for the problem bank Monte dei Paschi

On the other hand, the Italian government is looking for a new owner for the Monte dei Paschi problem bank. The bank, whose major shareholder has been the Roman Ministry of Economics and Finance since the rescue in 2017, has to return to the market by the end of 2021 at the latest after an agreement with the EU. And the government wants Unicredit as a buyer. Mustier is said to have resisted.

The government has specifically planned a capital increase of two billion euros in the budget for 2021 to make the crisis bank from Siena attractive to a buyer. The business is complicated because the populist coalition party, the Movement Five Stars, would prefer to keep the bank in state hands.

A key figure in the game is Unicredit Chairman-elect Pier Carlo Padoan. As Minister of Economics and Finance, he negotiated the state rescue of Monte dei Paschi with the EU Commission five years ago. The direction in which the big bank goes depends on its influence. There was only a major bank merger in Italy in July when the commercial bank Intesa Sanpaolo took over UBI Banca.

Mustier’s exit increases the chances of a takeover of Monte dei Paschi by Unicredit, according to analysts at Banca Akros before the announcement of the change on Monday evening. On the other hand, Unicredit is becoming less likely to return capital to shareholders through higher dividends and share buybacks.

These are the successor candidates

According to the analysts at Credit Suisse, a takeover of Monte dei Paschi would have a number of advantages for Unicredit. According to their calculations, Unicredit’s return on equity would increase by 0.6 percent, while the new larger bank could save 40 percent of the costs of Monte dei Paschi.

Successors for Mustier are already being traded in Rome. Matteo Del Fante, the CEO of Poste Italiane, Bernardo Mingrone, CFO of the bank Nexi, which specializes in payment services, Fabio Gallia, general manager of the shipbuilding group Fincantieri and also Victor Massiah, the former CEO of the bank UBI Banca. Even Marco Morelli, the recently retired boss of Monte dei Paschi, are given opportunities.
With agency material

More: “Not fit for Corona” – EU is not prepared for another banking crisis.

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How Italy wants to prevent a second lockdown

Dhe Italian government is resisting the second wave of Sars-CoV-2 infections with tightened protective measures and further restrictions. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte signed a corresponding decree on Tuesday night after a long debate in the cabinet and after discussions with the representatives of the twenty regions, which will initially remain in force for 30 days. Since last Thursday, it has been mandatory to wear mouth and nose protection in the whole country, even outdoors, unless you are doing an individual sport such as jogging or cycling alone and at the required distance from strangers.

Matthias Rüb

Political correspondent for Italy, the Vatican, Albania and Malta, based in Rome.

The closure of discos and dance halls, which was ordered at the beginning of September, remains in place. A general curfew at midnight applies to restaurants and bars. After 9 p.m., guests are no longer allowed to stand in front of bars or even consume drinks and food. The catering may no longer be at the bar, but must take place at tables within the restaurant or directly in front of it.

This provision is intended to prevent the formation of what is originally called “movida” in Italy with the originally Spanish word: large and often noisy gatherings of people, especially young people, in front of popular bars. Snack bars and restaurants for take-away meals may remain open in the last three hours before curfew, but food and drinks may no longer be consumed in the immediate vicinity after 9 p.m.

Private celebrations should be limited to six participants, as recommended by the government. Wearing a mask is also strongly recommended on such occasions within one’s own four walls or in the household visited, provided that people come together who do not live in the same household. According to reports, Health Minister Roberto Speranza from the left-wing populist five-star movement had urged a complete ban on private celebrations, but met with determined resistance in the cabinet and among the regional presidents. According to the knowledge of experts, 75 percent of the registered new infections currently occur among family members, friends and acquaintances. A maximum of 30 people are admitted to private celebrations on the occasion of a wedding or a christening as well as at funerals.

The freedom of travel will not be restricted for the time being

Congresses and trade fairs are allowed under compliance with the hygiene and distance regulations. The freedom to travel, for example from risk areas in areas with few new infections, will not be restricted for the time being. A maximum of a thousand spectators are still allowed in sports stadiums and 200 people in halls. The same maximum limit applies to cinemas, theaters and concert halls. A thousand spectators are allowed for cultural and music events in the open air, but no more than a capacity of 15 percent. Team sports and ball games may no longer be practiced in parks or in the context of private meetings, but only in clubs that must ensure compliance with the known measures against the spread of the virus.

School trips are also banned until further notice. Some regions had called for a return from classroom to distance learning for secondary school students in view of the increasing number of infections. School minister Lucia Azzolina from the Five Star Movement resolutely opposed this. She made the argument that if the hygiene and distance rules were adhered to in the classrooms, the virus had hardly been transmitted to date. On the other hand, transport in school buses and public transport is recognized as a risk of infection, because older students in particular violate the safety measures. Working in the home office is increasingly recommended for companies and especially in authorities. In the decree, 70 percent of employees who work at home instead of in the office are desirable.

There could be local lockdowns

In return for the restrictions in public life, the quarantine regulations are being relaxed. In most cases, the duration of isolation will be reduced from 14 days to ten days. People with a positive corona test who show no symptoms are also allowed to move freely again after a negative test instead of the previous two consecutive negative tests. In the case of precautionary home quarantine because someone had close contact with an infected person, the duration of isolation can also be reduced from 14 to ten days, provided that the test result is negative.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte once again ruled out a national lockdown like the one from the beginning of March to the end of May. “We have worked hard to avoid a second lockdown across the country,” said Conte. “We have strengthened the hospitals and the healthcare system. We do an impressively high number of tests every day. ”However, should the epidemic curve continue to rise, local lockdowns could occur. On Monday, 4619 new infections were registered in Italy within 24 hours. On the days before, the threshold of 5000 new Sars-CoV-2 infections had been exceeded several times.

It should no longer look like here, in August, in front of restaurants and bars: In the future, guests will no longer be allowed to stand in front of bars or even consume drinks or food after 9 p.m.


It should no longer look like here, in August, in front of restaurants and bars: In the future, guests will no longer be allowed to stand in front of bars or even consume drinks or food after 9 p.m.
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Image: dpa

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How Italy wants to prevent a second lockdown

Dhe Italian government is resisting the second wave of Sars-CoV-2 infections with tightened protective measures and further restrictions. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte signed a corresponding decree on Tuesday night after a long debate in the cabinet and after discussions with the representatives of the twenty regions, which will initially remain in force for 30 days. Since last Thursday, it has been mandatory to wear mouth and nose protection in the whole country, even outdoors, unless you are doing an individual sport such as jogging or cycling alone and at the required distance from strangers.

Matthias Rüb

Political correspondent for Italy, the Vatican, Albania and Malta, based in Rome.

The closure of discos and dance halls, which was ordered at the beginning of September, remains in place. A general curfew at midnight applies to restaurants and bars. After 9 p.m., guests are no longer allowed to stand in front of bars or even consume drinks and food. The catering may no longer be at the bar, but must take place at tables within the restaurant or directly in front of it.

This provision is intended to prevent the formation of what is originally called “movida” in Italy with the originally Spanish word: large and often noisy gatherings of people, especially young people, in front of popular bars. Snack bars and restaurants for take-away meals may remain open in the last three hours before curfew, but food and drinks may no longer be consumed in the immediate vicinity after 9 p.m.

Private celebrations should be limited to six participants, as recommended by the government. Wearing a mask is also strongly recommended on such occasions within one’s own four walls or in the household visited, provided that people come together who do not live in the same household. According to reports, Health Minister Roberto Speranza from the left-wing populist five-star movement had urged a complete ban on private celebrations, but met with determined resistance in the cabinet and among the regional presidents. According to the knowledge of experts, 75 percent of the registered new infections currently occur among family members, friends and acquaintances. A maximum of 30 people are admitted to private celebrations on the occasion of a wedding or a christening as well as at funerals.

The freedom of travel will not be restricted for the time being

Congresses and trade fairs are allowed under compliance with hygiene and distance regulations. The freedom to travel, for example from risk areas in areas with few new infections, will not be restricted for the time being. A maximum of a thousand spectators are still allowed in sports stadiums, and 200 people in halls. The same maximum limit applies to cinemas, theaters and concert halls. A thousand spectators are allowed for cultural and music events in the open air, but no more than a capacity of 15 percent. Team sports and ball games may no longer be practiced in parks or in the context of private meetings, but only in clubs that must ensure compliance with the known measures against the spread of the virus.

School trips are also banned until further notice. Some regions had called for a return from classroom to distance learning for secondary school students in view of the increasing number of infections. School minister Lucia Azzolina from the Five Star Movement resolutely opposed this. She made the argument that if the hygiene and distance rules were adhered to in the classrooms, the virus had hardly been transmitted to date. On the other hand, transport in school buses and public transport is recognized as a risk of infection, because older students in particular violate the safety measures. Working in the home office is again increasingly recommended for companies and especially in authorities. The decree stipulates a proportion of 70 percent of employees who work at home instead of in the office as desirable.

There could be local lockdowns

In return for the restrictions in public life, the quarantine regulations are being relaxed. In most cases, the duration of isolation will be reduced from 14 days to ten days. People with a positive corona test who show no symptoms are also allowed to move freely again after a negative test instead of the previous two consecutive negative tests. In the case of precautionary home quarantine because someone had close contact with an infected person, the duration of isolation can also be reduced from 14 to ten days if the test result is negative.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte once again ruled out a national lockdown like the one from the beginning of March to the end of May. “We have worked hard to avoid a second lockdown across the country,” said Conte. “We have strengthened the hospitals and healthcare. We do an impressively high number of tests every day. ”However, should the epidemic curve continue to rise, local lockdowns could occur. On Monday, 4619 new infections were registered in Italy within 24 hours. On the previous days, the threshold of 5000 new Sars-CoV-2 infections had been exceeded several times.

It should no longer look like here, in August, in front of restaurants and bars: In future, guests will no longer be allowed to stand in front of bars or even consume drinks and food in front of bars.


It should no longer look like here, in August, in front of restaurants and bars: In future, guests will no longer be allowed to stand in front of bars or even consume drinks and food in front of bars.
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Image: dpa

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“Done outside the M5s secretariat” – Libero Quotidiano

The interview released by Alessandro di Battista a A clean sweep. “I think that by doing so, we will go towards a weakening direction of the 5 Star Movement. It will perhaps become a party like the Udeur, maybe more good for managing chairs and careers and that’s not what I am for I fought“. Di Battista, who has always been part of theorthodox wing of the Movement, no longer recognizes the creature he had helped to create and shape in previous years. The interview was not appreciated by the founder of the Movement Beppe Grillo, so much so that – as reported by the Time – one would be thinking of not including the rebel grillino in the restructuring of the party and leaving him out of it too a possible secretariat.

By the way, Grillo has worked and is working to make structural the alliance with the Democratic Party. Which just doesn’t go down to Di Battista, who indeed considers the eventual definitive union M5S-Pd as the “black Death”. The wind of crisis had already been felt during the regional. Di Battista, in Puglia, came to campaign against the candidate dem Michele Emiliano and to stigmatize the calls for separate voting. And this is how the internal division of the party between the governing wing of Luigi Di Maio and the Orthodox one which includes the rebels. The draft of the new statute of the group in the House also arouses some suspicion, from which the group has completely disappeared Rousseau platform. In its place the Blog of the stars and the Movimento5stelle.it site.

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Why Conte’s power base crumbles despite its popularity

Den Descent from Olympus by the celebrated statesman to the level of political hardship had to complete Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte faster than he would have liked. Last Wednesday, the senators and members of the left-wing coalition had prepared a heroic reception for their tired head of government after his return from the Brussels marathon: Before Conte could even say a word to Parliament about his act of strength, there was a lot of applause.

Matthias Rüb

Political correspondent for Italy, the Vatican, Albania and Malta based in Rome.

The film and photo recordings of the touched father, who had won € 209 billion from the EU’s reconstruction fund for his people and was cheered for by the people’s representatives, were powerful. They remained so even when some members of the left-wing populist five-star movement chatted that the minutes of applause for Conte had been ordered in advance by the parliamentary group leaderships via telephone chain from the parliamentarians.

Recent surveys show that the majority of Italians give their head of government a double-good testimony: both for his manager during the acute phase of the pandemic from March to May and for his skill, the Europeans to an unprecedented act of solidarity for the corona virus in particular to move hit country. But even if Conte enjoys such a high reputation among the people as hardly any other prime minister of the past two and a half decades, the power position of the coalition of five stars and social democrats he has led since September remains precarious. And there can be no question of harmony between the unequal government partners.

Emergency by the end of the year?

Before traveling to the EU summit, Conte had indicated that he wanted to extend the state of emergency until the end of the year. The virus is far from being defeated, and the government and its key ministers argue time and again that the government must be able to act immediately in the event of a second wave of infections. Conte had declared the state of emergency on January 31 after a Chinese tourist couple had tested positive for the corona virus. In Italy, a state of emergency is usually declared after natural disasters such as earthquakes, fire or floods, so that the government in Rome can quickly take emergency measures without the usual bureaucratic obstacle course.

Conte has been governing the pandemic emergency by decree for half a year now. Parliament is consulted sporadically at most. Discussions with the scientific and technical advisory board appointed by the government have taken the place of the discussion with elected representatives. Conte has made historically unprecedented decisions, practically single-handedly. He has had a national lockdown for almost three months. He has banned entry from risk areas. It has raised billions of additional debts to deal with the crisis, and the government debt ratio is expected to skyrocket to 159 percent of annual economic output by the end of 2020.

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