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Main focus of Friday, February 22, 2013


Italy faces landmark election

According to the polls the centre-left alliance may win the most seats in parliament. (© dapd)

The uncertainty over the outcome of the parliamentary election in Italy contributed to losses on the European financial markets on Thursday. Record unemployment, huge debts and lacking competitiveness are taking their toll on the country. The markets have lost their patience, commentators conclude, and call on the new government to push through unpopular reforms to get Europe's patient back on its feet.


Il Sole 24 Ore - Italy

Markets' patience with Italy exhausted

European stock markets suffered heavy losses on Thursday. This is hardly surprising given the uncertain outcome of the elections in crisis-stricken Italy, the liberal-conservative business paper Il Sole 24 Ore laments: "In addition to the chaos and the demagogy ahead of the elections, what people most fear is a phase of political paralysis in which reforms are put on ice. … The message of the markets is once again unmistakable: their patience has run out. … If the country doesn't immediately get serious about fixing the budget and introducing structural reforms and an industrial policy aimed at facilitating loans and investment, not even the euro bailout mechanism will be able to protect it from the mistrust of its partners and the doubts of the markets. Speculation is countered not with borrowed liquidity but with credible and reliable politics at an international level." (22/02/2013)


Aamulehti - Finland

Europe's patient must recover

Italy can no longer afford to put urgently needed reforms on the back burner, the liberal daily Aamulehti writes: "Italy now needs a strong leadership to bring it out of the long period of stagnation. It has postponed necessary but politically unpopular reforms for far too long. The Italian economy has been in decline for 18 months. One of Italy's main problems is its weak competitiveness. According to The Economist, since 2008 the unit costs have risen higher in Italy than in any other euro country - with the exception of Finland. It is in the interest of both Italy and the entire Eurozone that Italy gets back on its feet and stops being the sick man of Europe. But this won't be possible if money is spent thoughtlessly - no matter who is governing the country." (22/02/2013)


Berlingske - Denmark

Fear of Berlusconi making a comeback

The Italian parliamentary elections on Sunday will determine the fate of Italy and Europe, the liberal-conservative daily Berlingske believes: "The stakes will be high when the Italians cast their votes on Sunday. Not just for Italy, where frequent changes of government are nothing unusual, but for the rest of the world and above all Europe. There are fears that political chaos and paralysis will result if party animal Silvio Berlusconi ends up having anything to do with the country's political future again instead of being relegated to the past. … Unusually for this sector, even the world of bankers and stockbrokers is betting on the leftist [leader of the social democratic Partito Democratico] Pieruigi Bersani, who according to the polls has good chances of becoming Italy's next prime minister with his centre-left alliance." (21/02/2013)


Der Tagesspiegel - Germany

Europe fears Italian wake-up call

The elections that will take place in Italy on Sunday and Monday are in fact European, the liberal daily Tagesspiegel writes: "The North of the continent fears a South that seems to stand for nothing but debts and corruption; the South sees itself gagged by the North's demands for 'reforms'. Nowadays every child knows what that means: the dismantling of public welfare and infrastructure, higher taxes, fewer prospects in life. ... On Sunday and Monday our fellow Europeans in Italy could express their unease over the ruling policy that has no alternatives in Europe, and in so doing send a wake-up call to Northern Central Europe. Is there really any alternative to the impoverishment of the Greeks, to the fact that Italian middle-class families can't go out to restaurants any more, never mind buy a German middle-of-the-range car? The South is slowly turning from a sales market into an export area from which people without the prospect of a better future, or merely a dignified life, see no alternative but to move north." (22/02/2013)


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