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.


THE BALL – Celtic draw and are already 21 points from Rangers (Scotland)

Celtic returned to give points, this Monday, drawing in the reception to Hibernian (1-1), in match of the 24th round of the Scottish League.

The Glasgow ‘Catholics’, with many casualties due to positive cases to Covid-19, scored in the 81st minute, in a free kick superiorly scored by David Turnbull, but Hibernian would reach the tie in time of discounts, through Kevin Nisbet.

With this tie, Celtic (44 points), despite having less three games played, sees Rangers (65) open advantage of 21 points in the lead of the classification. Hibernian is fourth on the table, with 37 points.


BOLA – Agent tries to unblock Rodrigo Pinho’s early arrival (Benfica)

Safe from next season, the possibility of Rodrigo Pinho traveling to Luz this month, as BALL advanced. Marcelo Lipatín, owner of Lipatín Sports, the company that represents the striker, is in Portugal to also try to mediate this option, which both Benfica and the player look on with good eyes.

Luís Filipe Vieira, president of Benfica, and Carlos Pereira, leader of Marítimo, have talked in the last hours about this possibility, which Jorge Jorge also likes.

The issue is the financial compensation that the Maritime will require to release the athlete, whose contract ends at the end of the season. On the table will be the possibility for the red to surrender a player from the lot of surplus that may interest the islanders.


THE BALL – Trump permanently banned from Twitter after attacking the Capitol (photos) (United States)

With 12 days left of being president of the United States, Donald Trump was banned from Twitter.

The decision, explained through the “Twitter Safety / Twitter Security” account, came “after a careful review” of recent comments, namely those that happened on the day of the invasion of the Capitol by hundreds of his supporters, on Wednesday.

“After a careful review of the recent tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around it, we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement to violence”, it reads.

The account had already been banned for 12 hours on Wednesday, the 6th, due to “serious violations of the Civic Integrity policies” of the social network. Also Facebook and Instagram had banned Trump indefinitely on the 6th.

The invasion of the Capitol occurred when the two chambers, Congress and Senate, were meeting to certify the votes of the Electoral College, thus making Joe Biden official as the next US president, who will take office on January 20.

Five people died, including a Capitol policeman and the authorities initiated dozens of arrests of those who entered the building, the overwhelming majority of them residing outside Washington, but who entered with their faces uncovered, many of them broadcasting live on their social networks and identifying himself by name.

In one of his last tweets, the outgoing President announced Friday that he will not be attending Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony.


THE BALL – 90 more dead and 4,956 cases; inpatients to increase (COVID-19)

In the last 24 hours, Portugal recorded another 90 fatalities and 4,956 infected by the coronavirus, according to data released this Tuesday by the Directorate-General for Health (DGS), referring to Monday. In total, the country now counts 7,286 deaths and 436,579 confirmed cases of Covid-19.

As for hospitals, 3,260 people are hospitalized, 89 more than the day before, of which 512 in Intensive Care, two more.

There are 175 more active cases, bringing the total number to 80,183; Another 4,691 people were recovered, increasing the total number of people cured to 349,110.


THE BALL – New confinement to try to contain Covid-19 variant (United Kingdom)

The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced this Monday that the country will enter a new total confinement, very similar to that of March, for six weeks, until the middle of February, as a way of containing the new variant of the coronavirus that is has dragged across the territory. This Monday, England recorded a daily record of 58,784 positive cases, on what was the seventh consecutive day with more than 50 thousand cases.

Boris Johnson asked the population to stay at home as long as possible and people are only allowed to walk on public roads in case of medical needs, purchase of food, physical exercise or face-to-face work in case teleworking is impossible . All schools, including universities, will be closed for six weeks and restaurants, bars and cafes can only operate on a take-away and home delivery basis.

The measure is yet to be voted on in parliament this Tuesday, but the prime minister urged the population to start complying with the rules.


From bankrupt state to sought-after debtor

Roman agora in Athens at dusk

The country’s debt burden is increasing. But the situation is different than in the sovereign debt crisis.

(Photo: AP)

Athens Christos Staikouras is not messing about, he is bulging: the Greek finance minister pumped 23.9 billion euros into the economy in 2020 to support struggling companies and to preserve jobs at risk. In the new year Staikouras wants to loosen another 7.5 billion for corona aid. The sum of 31.4 billion euros corresponds to almost a fifth of last year’s gross domestic product (GDP).

However, the expenditures leave deep red marks in the national budget. At the end of November, the budget was already showing a deficit of 18.25 billion euros. That corresponded to a good eleven percent of GDP.

In the primary balance sheet, which excludes debt servicing, Greece will post a deficit of 7.2 percent of GDP for 2020, according to calculations by the finance ministry. The last time the country slipped that deep into the red was in 2010, at the beginning of the debt crisis. The national debt will reach a new record of 340 billion euros by the end of the year. This increases the debt ratio to 208.9 percent of GDP. That is 43 percent more than in 2010.

At that time Greece lost its access to the financial markets. The euro partners and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had to save the country from bankruptcy with billions in loans. Investors mockingly referred to Greek government bonds as “ouzo bonds” – an allusion to the return on ten-year paper, which in 2012 almost reached the alcohol content of the Hellenic national schnapps at 39.9 percent.

But unlike then, the Greek finance minister does not have to beg for aid loans today. Despite the strained budget situation, he can even repay them earlier: Greece will soon repay IMF loans totaling 3.6 billion euros ahead of schedule, Staikouras announced at the turn of the year.

These are loans that are due regularly by the end of 2022. Athens already repaid IMF loans totaling 3.7 billion euros early last year. After the repayment now planned, Athens still owes the IMF 1.7 billion euros from the crisis era.

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THE BALL – Vaccinated the first citizen in Portugal against Covid-19 (COVID-19)

António Sarmento, 65, director of the infectious disease service at Hospital de São João, in Porto, was the first person in Portugal to receive the vaccine against Covid-19. The vaccination took place at 10.07 am on Sunday and ended with applause from those present, including Marta Temido, Minister of Health.

«Quiet, confident, optimistic», said António Sarmento. “The risk is not zero, but it is not zero for any new medication”, said the clinician, for whom the side effects are perfectly normal, as they are in other vaccines.

«History tells us that vaccines are very safe», he stressed.

Marta Temido, for her part, highlighted a “moment full of symbolism and hope”. “It symbolizes the capacity we had to work together”, he praised.

News with updated image


THE BALL – Mandatory curfew decreed at 11 pm on December 31 (COVID-19)

António Costa announced, this Thursday, the Government’s measures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic in the New Year. In the declaration to the country, the Prime Minister pointed out that Portugal “is not yet where it wanted to be” and, as he had already announced, decided to sacrifice the New Year for Christmas, where there will be no such restrictive measures.

For December 31 the mandatory curfew was decreed across the country at 11 pm, in order to avoid the usual celebrations on the streets. On January 1, 2 and 3, freedom of movement will be conditioned from 1 pm.

The Chief Executive also asked the Portuguese to wear a mask during the Christmas dinner, stressing that “each person is a risk”.


THE BALL – 87 more deaths and 4320 new cases (COVID-19)

Portugal registered 87 more deaths and 4320 cases of Covid-19 this Wednesday, according to data from the bulletin of the Directorate-General for Health (DGS) this Thursday. In total, the country has 362,616 confirmed cases and 5902 deaths.

As for hospitals, there are 39 fewer inpatients (there are now 3142), but eight more in intensive care units, for a total of 494.

The bulletin also reports that there are more than 3309 recovered, for a total of 287,028.

There are over 924 active cases, which means a total of 69,686 people.