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  • In addition to his proposals for education and judiciary reform, Premier Matteo Renzi must address revision of labor legislation. This may be his toughest job, for it pits the government against the trade unions which in theory support Renzi’s Partito Democratico. At the heart of the problem is the “Workers’ Bill of Rights,” adopted in 1970. Can it be changed to make the work force more flexible? Industry hopes so; the unions disagree.
  • Giorgio Napolitano has pitted the weight of his presidency and his prestige against the delaying tactics that currently tie the Senate into knots. The introduction of 7,800 amendments to the government’s proposals for constitutional reform is already causing “serious damage” to Italy, said Napolitano Wednesday. Meanwhile, former Premier Silvio Berlusconi once again became a major player after an appeals court overturned his seven- year conviction for alleged relations with a minor accused of prostitution.
  • Federica Mogherini, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, meets mayor Bill de Blasio at City Hall. The New York mayor clearly proclaims his Italian-ness in an open and proud manner by kicking off the meeting speaking Italian. Minister Mogherini underscore responds: " Italy is a superpower in terms of presence around the world, and we need to empower this huge resource we have. Building bridges with a strong leader like you in this part of the world is part of that process"
  • Who could have guessed that, on the very day Berlusconi was given a light sentence to nine months of occasional social service work, he would be upstaged by his former right-hand man, former Senator Marcello Dell'Utri? Dell'Utri, 72, has been Silvio Berlusconi's good friend and business associate ever since he helped build Berlusconi's TV empire and then his Sicilian political organization back in 1992. But today Dell'Utri seems to have slipped away from Italian justice.
  • It's a done deal: on Wednesday the Chamber of Deputies passed a revised election law dubbed the "Italicum," with 365 votes in favor, 156 nays and 40 abstentions. The new law, whose aim is to promote governing stability in a country where the political parties are locked in a three-way split, now passes to the Senate for debate and approval. But Premier Matteo Renzi's point was also to show that he can make good on his promises to bring change.
  • The proposal for a revision of the election process finally made it into the Chamber of Deputies this week, as neo-Premier Matteo Renzi had promised, but it does not quite resemble the deal expected after he and former Premier Silvio Berlusconi had a widely publicized (and widely criticized) meeting to hash it out. In the Senate, Beppe Grillo, head of the Movimento Cinque Stelle, went on a North Korean-style warpath, casting out dissidents. New polls show center-right and center-left neck and neck, and, for Grillo, disapproval.
  • Premier designate Matteo Renzi is a man in a hurry. After being tapped by President Giorgio Napolitano on Monday, he declared that he will "go for broke" to introduce reforms and that he intends for his government to last four years, or until the natural end of the legislature. He has listed four crucial political goals, with deadlines. Most, however, are the same goals that have frustrated his predecessors in office. On entering Parliament Tuesday Renzi--who is not an MP--actually got lost and had to be shown the way. Can he help Italy find its way out of what he has called "a swamp"?
  • He was surely expecting it, but when the latest judiciary act involving former Premier Silvio Berlusconi arrived on Oct. 23, by all accounts it nevertheless came as una tegola in testa--a roof tile dropped on his head. This latest incrimination, which will bring Berlusconi to trial before a penal court on Feb. 11, is for vote-buying and is no less serious than the others--on the contrary. Berlusconi, already convicted of tax fraud, obviously fears time in prison, however unlikely. Coincidentally, the Italian supreme Cassations court has just cleared Sophia Loren, who did spend time in prison, for alleged tax dodging.
  • Saturday's five-hour powwow at Silvio Berlusconi's villa at Arcore, near Milan, was attended by his entire roster of backers. The aim: to decide what political moves remain open to him now that a high court has found him guilty of tax dodging. Should his supporters continue to press President Giorgio Napolitano for an amnesty, when his request would appear an admission of guilt? Since Napolitano gives no sign of being willing to grant such an amnesty, that is excluded. Meantime Premier Enrico Letta has also refused to give Berlusconi an out. The result is that new elections appear ever more likely.

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