Friday

26th May 2017

Berlusconi: euro is a 'swindle' and Germany wants 'hegemony'

  • Once good friends: Berlusconi (l) and Libya's late dictator Gaddafi (Photo: Roberto Gimmi)

Italy's derided and populist ex-PM Silvio Berlusconi is trying to make a comeback ahead of general elections due in spring 2013.

Speaking at a book presentation event in Rome on Thursday (27 September), he called the euro a "big swindle" and said that it would be no "tragedy" if Germany - which has displayed "hegemony, not solidarity" in the crisis - left the common currency.

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He also criticised the eurozone bailout fund, the ESM, which was ratified by Berlin the same day.

Belrusconi said that it only contributes to the vicious circle of recession and debt: "To receive aid you have to sign a memorandum with austerity measures, which bring the economy to collapse and into a recessionary spiral."

The 75-year old politician has not said for sure if he will stand for election next year.

He was forced to resign in November 2011 amid a long series of sex scandals, as well as broken promises to fellow eurozone leaders that he would fix the country's economy.

Meanwhile, his successor, Mario Monti, an economist and a former EU commissioner with no political affiliation, has indicated he might stay on as PM next year.

"I hope there will be a clear result [in the elections], with a clear possibility for whatever majority to be formed and for a government led by a political leader," he said at a briefing in the Council on Foreign Relations think-tank in New York also on Thursday.

He added: "Should there be circumstances in which they were to believe that I could serve helpfully after that period of elections, I will be there. I will consider it. I cannot preclude anything."

Italian businessmen and EU officials would like to see Monti stay on.

But his political support is dwindling after he put in place tax increases and pension cuts designed to get in line with EU debt limits.

For its part, some people in the Italian do not like the idea of an unelected technocrat continuing to run the country.

"He should run for office like in a normal democracy and put an end to short cuts that mean he only represents himself and his friends," said Felice Belisario of the opposition People of Values party.

The 69-year old Monti was appointed senator for life last year and does not need to be elected on any party list in order to become Prime Minister again.

MEPs vote to start democracy probe on Hungary

The European Parliament took the first step towards launching the Article 7 procedure against Hungary for backsliding on democracy. The process might lead to sanctions, but Orban is not backing down.

Schulz fails to beat Merkel in German home state

Former EU parliament leader, Martin Schulz, says the defeat of his social-democrats in North Rhine-Westphalia is "difficult". The elections showed that a "Schulz effect" does not (yet) exist.

Austria heading for snap elections

Foreign minister Kurz has taken leadership of the conservative party in what could lead to an alliance with the far-right.

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