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Main focus of Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Berlusconi unsettles Europe

Italy's policy towards Europe has played a key role in electoral campaigning. (© dapd)

Leading German politicians have voiced concern that Italy's ex-prime minister Silvio Berlusconi could return to power. In the run-up to the country's parliamentary elections on February 24 and 25, Berlusconi's right-wing coalition has been rapidly gaining ground against the leading left-wing alliance. In view of Italy's economic entwinement in the EU, commentators see such intervention in Italy's election campaign as entirely legitimate, charged as it is with populist overtones.

Süddeutsche Zeitung - Germany

Elections concern all of Europe nowadays

The rule about not interfering in the election campaigns of other countries is completely obsolete in these times of total economic interdependence, writes the left-liberal Süddeutsche Zeitung: "Berlusconi himself has shown how outdated this rule is by portraying Angela Merkel as the enemy. Germany doesn't need to get any more involved in the Italian election campaign - it's already been involved for some time and no amount of dignified restraint can change that now. In view of the situation Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and other German politicians have decided to express their concerns about a potential Berlusconi comeback. This is not telling people how to behave. It is simply supplying the Italians with information they should have before they cast their votes. Those who want to remedy the democratic deficit in the EU should think first about habits, not treaties. Within the Union, goods, services and norms have long been transcending borders. It's time to allow political confrontations to do likewise." (19/02/2013)

Corriere della Sera - Italy

Unobjective campaign fuels distrust

The unobjective way in which the election campaign is being fought is causing the distrust of Italy to grow, the liberal-conservative daily Corriere della Sera criticises: "The attention we are attracting from abroad should fill us with pride. But unfortunately not all the looks cast in our direction are favourable. Little clues testify to scepticism and fear that the elections will produce an ungovernable Italy. ... For example according to Bloomberg a loan granted by Mercedes-Daimler contains a guarantee clause stipulating that when upon maturity in 2015 it must be paid back in the currency valid at that time in Italy. In other words, either in euros or in a national currency. So in lira? … We don't deserve this lack of trust. We don't deserve it either as a country or as citizens. Our efforts to keep Italy in the EU and to repay our debts despite the intolerable tax burden must not be destroyed by an election campaign that is being fought with bickering and promises instead of programmes and resolutions." (19/02/2013)

Libération - France

Italy's clown politicians deserve criticism

The warnings voiced by some European politicians against several leading candidates in the Italian election campaign are well justified, the liberal daily Libération contends: "Do Italian politicians deserve the negative image which their European partners have of them? ... Of course, the eternal comeback of Silvio Berlusconi, who is now running for the sixth time, and his recent rise in the opinion polls attest to a sick country that continues to put its faith in this corrupt and corrupting buffoon. He has based his demagogic campaign on tirades against the euro and Germany, not forgetting to praise Mussolini in passing. Another ambiguous buffoon is the comedian Beppe Grillo, who fulminates 'against the politicians', who are of course all corrupt. And he too is a staunch defender of Italy against Europe. Finally, like all the magistrates before him who have gone into politics, the judge Antonio Ingroia confuses the judicial and the political realms, to the detriment of both." (18/02/2013)

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