mercoledì 17 settembre 2014

Renzi jeered, applauded as presents 1,000-day programme

'Last chance' for Italy says reformist premier

(ANSA) - Rome, September 16 - Premier Matteo Renzi on Tuesday got a standing ovation as well as opposition jeers while presenting his 1,000-day reform program in successive speeches before each house of parliament. He told the Lower House that his government's 1,000-day reform programme was Italy's last chance to make up for wasted time that should have been used to combat the country's economic decline. "I am willing to lose popularity to carry out reforms," added the premier, the leader of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD). "The severity of our approach stems from the strong, widespread awareness that at the end of this road we will not only have turned around the current parliamentary term, we will also have put Italy back on track".

He touched on all the major points of his sweeping reform package, which seeks to overhaul Italy's justice system, electoral law, schools, and labor laws in an effort to modernize the country, cut red tape, attract foreign investments, and pull the country out of what is its longest postwar recession and its third in six years. A new jobless benefits system must be in place as of 2015, and while the government wants to reduce the cost of labor, this does not mean it will reduce wages, he told the Senate. "Our labor law needs radical change, so that ideological derbies no longer take center stage," he said. "We must also simplify jobless benefits rules, and guarantee unequivocal and identical safeguards for all". The government's reforms will help Italians "make peace" with their civil justice system, Renzi went on.

He also promised to ensure that judges are able to do their work without harassment - including from media outlets. "We will fight in every quarter for judges' right to autonomy," Renzi said. He went on to say that while a snap election would almost certainly benefit his Democratic Party (PD) party, Italy comes first. "We think that the country's interests comes before a party's needs," he said as the PD rides higher than ever in opinion polls thanks to the young premier's reformist drive. The latest poll showed the PD well ahead of all other parties with 40.5% support, while Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) stood at 21% and Silvio Berlusconi's center-right Forza Italia party garnered 15.5%.

Renzi went on to to tell the Senate that although the Italian economy has stopped falling, it may be some time before healthy growth resumes. Lawmakers must look beyond the short term, because the entire eurozone is stagnating and action is needed to kick-start growth. And while his remarks on reform garnered him a standing ovation in the Lower House earlier in the day, as he spoke before the Senate the premier was forced to raise his voice as members of M5S frequently shouted "shame" while giving him the thumbs-down signal of rejection. Renzi at one point paused in describing his planned economic reforms to retort, "I understand that someone is afraid of voting". Senators from the separatist, xenophobic Northern League party brought gelato in reference to a recent cover story in Britain's The Economist, which focused on the serious problems within the eurozone economy. On the cover, Renzi was pictured eating an ice cream aboard a sinking boat along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, with European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi bailing out the boat. 

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