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Main focus of Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Europe fears Italian paralysis

Berlusconi has offered to form a coalition with election winner Bersani. (© dapd)

The political stalemate after the election in Italy caused turmoil on the markets on Tuesday. The yields on Italian government bonds rose while share prices fell in several countries and the euro also dropped significantly in value. Some commentators warn that the EU is now paying the price of its austerity policy and that the euro crisis will worsen once again. Others believe that the Eurozone is now in a position to survive Italy's political paralysis.


Diário Económico - Portugal

EU leaders paying for their mistakes now

Rising yields on government bonds, sinking share prices in many countries and a falling euro: the euro crisis is escalating again but the Italians are not the only ones to blame, the liberal business daily Diário Económico writes: "Instability in Europe and a shaky euro have made a comeback with the threat of ungovernability that is rocking Italy, a founding member of the EU project. What the Italians have made clear is that we are still far from having overcome this crisis. ... To maintain that the Italians are irresponsible and that they have now got what they deserve is without doubt a mistake for which we Europeans will pay dearly. Perhaps even with our future. Because Italy is no Ireland or Portugal, much less Greece. The EU's leading politicians must try to understand where they went wrong - how they have brought the Italians to react in this way to the challenges faced by Europe. The true responsibility for this situation lies namely with them [the EU politicians]." (27/02/2013)


The European - Germany

Berlusconi is Italy's revenge on Germany

Berlusconi's success in the parliamentary elections can be traced back to Germany's policies and its austerity dictates for Europe, journalist Stefano Casertano writes in the German version of the online magazine The European: "The principle is simple: what do Italians hate? Austerity. What did Berlusconi promise? The end of austerity. ... A vote for Berlusconi was a vote against Germany. ... His laconic magic is the product of German foreign policy. Many Italians, at least those who voted for him, believe that now the big 'euro fraud' will come to light. Germany is a fantastic country with remarkable economic power, but the advantages that it reaps from the euro are disproportionate to what it puts into it. ... The idea is simple: 'You gave us austerity, we give you Berlusconi.' ... Don't ask why the Italians should vote against Berlusconi, but why they vote for him. ... And also how a big country like Germany should use its leadership role in Europe." (26/02/2013)


Der Standard - Austria

Europe needs to calm down

After the unclear outcome in the Italian parliamentary elections, the yields on Portuguese, Spanish and Italian bonds rose sharply on Tuesday. But the panic is uncalled for, the left-liberal daily Der Standard writes: "A fresh outbreak of the euro crisis is unlikely because in the meantime new firewalls have been erected and fire extinguishers that weren't available when the first billows of smoke appeared in Greece are now in place. Above all, the readiness of the Central Bank to indirectly finance crisis states if necessary - albeit at the expense of price stability - should prevent Italy from running completely dry. And the bailout fund is also an option, even if it doesn't have enough resources for an intervention on behalf of Europe's largest debtor. So all in all the economic outlook has changed over the past 15 months. ... And besides, the mess in Italy's domestic politics shouldn't be over-dramatised. ... If everything else fails, new elections wouldn't be the end of the world politically. No one knows this better than the Italians." (27/02/2013)


Corriere della Sera - Italy

Italians to blame for their woes

The strong results obtained by Berlusconi and Grillo in conjunction with Monti's poor showing are being interpreted as Italians having voted against the EU austerity plan. But the country is too quick to pin the blame on the EU, economist Lucrezia Rechlin argues in the liberal-conservative daily Corriere della Sera: "There is some truth to the observation that this was a vote against austerity and against Europe. ... Europe could in theory have been more lenient towards the countries in trouble. ... But the fact that a harsher stance was adopted is not in my opinion the result of cynical calculations on Germany's part but a lack of trust in a credible alternative. A distrust that is rooted in our own weakness, namely in the lack of social cohesion and public trust in the government. What is our steadily growing public debt but the result of a policy that only seeks approval; that is based on waste and subsidies because it lacks the power and the farsightedness to aim for a different balance that pursues the common good?" (27/02/2013)


Protagon - Greece

Success of populists death-blow for Europe

The election success of Berlusconi and Grillo represents a victory for populism in Italy but it will be the death-blow for Europe, the web portal Protagon predicts: "Politically, what happened yesterday in the Italian elections was the rebellion of one of the worse forms of populism against the worst form of globalisation: the ideology of extreme neo-liberalism. ... The united Europe as we knew it died in Italy. From now on it will either develop into a United States of Europe or we will witness the macabre ritual of the burial of Europe over the next few years. ... Those who are celebrating [the success of Berlusconi and Grillo and the defeat of current Prime Minister Monti] will soon pay the price of their error: the burial will perhaps start here, and perhaps it has already begun. Only if a United States of Europe emerges will Europe have a chance of surviving." (27/02/2013)


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