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POLITICS

Italian politics costs taxpayers €757 a year

The Italian political system costs each taxpayer €757 a year, although the prime minister's office costs just €15, the latest report by the Italian Labour Union (UIL) has found.

Italian politics costs taxpayers €757 a year
The cost of the Chamber of Deputies is forecast to be €943 million this year. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

The direct and indirect costs of Italian politics cost €23.2 billion a year, amounting to €757 per taxpayer, the UIL said in a report released on Monday.

Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s office was forecast to cost €458.6 million in 2013; at €15 per taxpayer the figure is an increase of 11.6 percent on last year.

The office of President Giorgio Napolitano was set to be a relative bargain this year at €228 million, equal to 2012.

Both houses of parliament are getting cheaper, according to the report.

The cost of the Chamber of Deputies went down by five percent on last year to €943 million, according to the forecast. The Senate bill was €505 million for 2013, 4.3 percent lower than last year.

SEE ALSO: Italian MPs twice as pricey as German MPs

But while the costs in some areas of politics may be going down, the labour union noted that the overall price would remain high given the number of people working within the political system.

“A million people live on politics; around five percent of the workforce. Reduce the number and we can go through with constitutional reform,” said Luigi Angeletti, the union secretary.

SEE ALSO: Over a million Italians earn a living from politics

Italy has 1,041 national and European parliamentarians, ministers and undersecretaries, the report said.

In addition, there are 1,270 presidents, councillors and council members at the regional level, 3,446 at provincial level and an additional 138,83 locally.

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POLITICS

Italian rivals pitch abroad in trilingual vote videos

Days after Italy's far-right leader made a multilingual appeal to foreign commentators to take her seriously, her main rival in September elections issued his own tit-for-tat video Saturday condemning her record.

Italian rivals pitch abroad in trilingual vote videos

Former prime minister Enrico Letta, leader of the centre-left Democratic Party, declared his pro-European credentials in a video in English, French and Spanish, while deriding the euroscepticism of Italy’s right-wing parties.

It echoes the trilingual video published this week by Giorgia Meloni, tipped to take power in the eurozone’s third largest economy next month, in which she sought to distance her Brothers of Italy party from its post-fascist roots.

“We will keep fighting to convince Italians to vote for us and not for them, to vote for an Italy that will be in the heart of Europe,” Letta said in English.

His party and Meloni’s are neck-and-neck in opinion polls ahead of September 25 elections, both with around 23 percent of support.

But Italy’s political system favours coalitions, and while Meloni is part of an alliance with ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi and anti-immigration leader Matteo Salvini, Letta has struggled to unite a fractured centre-left.

Speaking in French perfected in six years as a dean at Sciences Po university in Paris, Letta emphasised European solidarity, from which Italy is currently benefiting to the tune of almost 200 billion euros ($205 billion) in
post-pandemic recovery funds.

“We need a strong Europe, we need a Europe of health, a Europe of solidarity. And we can only do that if there is no nationalism inside European countries,” he said.

He condemned the veto that he said right-wing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor “Orban — friends and allies of the Italian right — is using every time he can (to) harm Europe”.

In Spanish, Letta highlighted Meloni’s ties with Spain’s far-right party Vox, at whose rally she spoke earlier this summer, railing at the top of her voice against “LGBT lobbies”, Islamist violence, EU bureaucracy and mass
immigration.

In English, he condemned the economic legacy of Berlusconi, a three-time premier who left office in 2011 as Italy was on the brink of economic meltdown, but still leads his Forza Italia party.

Letta’s programme includes a focus on green issues — he intends to tour Italy in an electric-powered bus — and young people, but he has made beating Meloni a key plank of his campaign.

Meloni insisted in her video that fascism was in the past, a claim greeted with scepticism given her party still uses the logo of a flame used by the Italian Social Movement set up by supporters of fascist leader Benito Mussolini.

In a joint manifesto published this week, Meloni, Berlusconi and Salvini committed themselves to the EU but called for changes to its budgetary rules — and raised the prospect of renegotiating the pandemic recovery plan.

Elections were triggered by the collapse of Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government last month, and are occurring against a backdrop of soaring inflation, a potential winter energy crisis and global uncertainty sparked by
the Ukraine war.

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