Italy moves to battle rampant corruption

Italy made progress towards tackling rampant corruption on Thursday after approving a bill that will see tougher action against those convicted of fraud.

Italy moves to battle rampant corruption
The bill follows scandals surrounding Italy's public works, including the Mose flood barrier project in Venice (pictured). Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

The bill, which also makes accounting fraud a criminal offense, won strong approval in Italy’s Lower House, with 280 voting in support, 53 voting against and 11 abstaining.

Those convicted of accounting fraud, which was decriminalized in 2002 by Silvio Berlusconi’s government, will face jail terms of up to ten years

The law will also see those convicted of corruption, including bribery and public contract rigging, jailed for up to ten years.

The anti-corruption bill follows a wave of scandals surrounding Italy’s public works, including the high-profile Expo trade show in Milan and Venice’s flood barrier project, Moses.

Corruption severely taints Italy’s image abroad, with the country ranking 69th in Transparency International’s 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index, and is often cited by foreign investors as a major deterrent.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi celebrated with a tweet, vowing to “change the country at whatever cost”.


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Italy’s Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report

Ex-PM Matteo Renzi would like to see former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi become prime minister of Italy, a party source told Reuters on Sunday.

Italy's Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report
Matteo Renzi. Image: Andreas Solaro/ POOL / AFP

“I would say that is one of our proposals,” confirmed the source, who declined to be named.

The Italian government collapsed last week when PM Giuseppe Conte resigned. The former coalition allies are currently trying to come to an agreement and sort out their differences.

The centre-left government had been in turmoil ever since former premier Matteo Renzi withdrew his Italia Viva party earlier this month, a move that forced Conte to step down this week.

During the past year, Renzi frequently criticised Conte’s management of the pandemic and economic crisis.

Italy’s La Stampa newspaper also reported on Sunday that President Sergio Mattarella was considering Draghi for the prime ministerial role. However, Mattarella’s office promptly denied this, saying there had been no contact between them.

So far, there has been no comment from Draghi, who hasn't been seen much in the public eye since 2019.

Italy's president, Sergio Mattarella, gave ruling parties more time on Friday to form a new government, after the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. 

Coalition parties Italia Viva, the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and anti-establishment 5-Star Movement must come to an agreement to allow the government to heal. 

Renzi, a former prime minister himself, has pubilcly stated that he does not want to talk about who should lead the next government at this stage, reasoning that the parties need to agree on a way forward first.

“Any effort today to fuel a discussion about Draghi is offensive to Draghi and above all to the president of the republic,” Renzi said in an interview published on Sunday with Corriere della Sera.

A senior Italia Viva lawmaker also told Reuters that “If the president gives a mandate to Draghi, we would certainly support this”. 

Renzi, whose party is not even registering three percent support in opinion polls, quit the coalition over Conte’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and his plans for spending more than 200 billion euros from a European Union fund to help Italy’s damaged economy.

READ ALSO: Why do Italy's governments collapse so often?