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Poor Italy - Why Super Mario Must Go, And Cynical Silvio Can't Stay Away

OpEd: Prime Minister Mario Monti has announced his resignation, after Silvio Berlusconi sabotages his technical government. Why can't Italy be a "normal" country?

Monti and Berlusconi
Monti and Berlusconi
Mario Calabresi

TURIN - Mario Monti took a day to think, then he made a statement, just one statement, and one that was accordant with his personality, his life and his way of governing: he offered his assurance that the financial stability law will be passed, and then he’ll resign.

Monti could not permit that those who had handed to him a country in ruins put him on public trial. He was not going to spend weeks begging for Parliamentary backing and confidence votes, or even to share space with those who have now decided that all the blame lies with the single currency.

"I won’t go to Europe to cover for those who make anti-European proclamations. I don’t want to have anything to do with them," Monti reportedly told President Giorgio Napolitano, as he informed him that he would be stepping down.

This is clean, clear statement forces everyone to assume their own responsibility, and leaves Silvio Berlusconi alone with his explosive U-turn. No one is questioning the former Prime Minister’s right to re-nominate himself (even if for a year he had assured the contrary), but it is absolutely unacceptable that the head the majority party in a technical government, who incidentally is also the man who left Italy on the edge of an abyss, should wake up one morning and decide he is out.

It is unacceptable that he blames Monti’s actions for all of Italy’s problems, without acknowledging any of the work he has done over the past year.

Handing back the keys

The technical government began its term up against an entrenched incapacity to govern, and the overpowering mistrust of the political parties. The nation's finances needed to be stabilized, in order to carry the Italians through until new elections would be held. The deal was that everyone would assume their own responsibility (and unpopularity) to try and avoid a total collapse of the country, without playing to populism and social malaise.

This being the case, how could (Berlusconi"s chief ally Angelino) Alfano think that Monti could continue after he had openly declared his own lack of trust in him in Parliament? Meanwhile, the center-right threatened to reject government bills on the legislative calendar. Only the most cynical politician could have pretended like nothing had happened -- Monti instead acknowledged the reality, and handed back the keys.

So, Italians are going to vote, for the first time in the history of the Republic, with coats on, maybe even in the first half of February, if you take into account the passing of economic reform measures and the dissolving of Parliament on Christmas Eve.

After having tried to do things with order for the last 12 months, the Italians are back to the emergencies and spasms of the worst kind of politics. With all the efforts and sacrifices made, we didn't deserve this.

It’s time that Italy became a normal country, predictable and maybe even boring. A country in which one need not be ashamed, that can sit in Europe and manage to be heard. For a year, we got close.

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Vladimir Putin delivers a speech to Russian people following the results of the referendum dealing with the annexation in four regions of Ukraine partly controlled by Moscow

Cameron Manley, Bertrand Hauger, Chloe Touchard, and Emma Albright

In a wide-ranging and provocative speech, Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced the annexation of four Ukraine regions, which Putin says now make Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson officially part of Russia.

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Speaking in the Kremlin’s St George’s Hall, the much-anticipated address to the Russian nation follows the so-called "referendums" in the occupied areas of the four Ukrainian regions — which the West condemned as shams held under gunpoint. Friday’s annexation comes as Russia is losing territory on the ground following a successful Ukrainian counter-offensive.

Putin directly addressed the leaders of Ukraine and "their real masters in the West," that the annexation was "for everyone to remember. People living in Luhansk and Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia are becoming our citizens. Forever."

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