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POLITICS

Italy approves slashing number of MPs in referendum

Ballots were cast nationwide for a referendum on cutting parliament numbers, which passed easily with alost 70 percent voting in favour.

Italy approves slashing number of MPs in referendum
People vote at a polling station in Florence with Covid-19 precations in place. Photo: AFP
Italians voted in the constitutional referendum on Sunday and Monday, at the same time as local and regional elections were held.
 
Voters were asked whether to approve an amendment to the the Italian Constitution, which would reduce the number of MPs in parliament from 630 to 400 in the lower house, and from 315 to 200 in the Senate.
 
The yes vote prevailed with 69.64%, compared to 30,36% fort the no vote, the Ansa news agency reported.
 
Meanwhile regional elections were also held in seven regions: Veneto, Campania, Tuscany, Liguria, Marche, Puglia and Valle d'Aosta.
 
A center-right coalition led by the once-powerful League leader Matteo Salvini won in three Italian regions but failed to snatch the left-wing stronghold of Tuscany, where the close-fought battle was seen as decisive for the country – and for Salvini.

READ ALSO: Italy's government boosted as the right fails to take Tuscany in key vote

The right triumphed instead in its usual strongholds of Veneto and Liguria, as well as taking Marche.

This means 15 of Italy's regions are now ruled by the right-wing coalition, which is made up of Salvini's league,  Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia, and Fratelli d'Italia, led by Gioirgia Meloni.
 

But the defeat in the high-profile battle for the left-wing bastion of Tuscany, ruled by the left for 50 years, came as a blow for the right-wing coalition and a boost to the national government

 
The two-day vote went ahead despite a threatened resurgence of the coronavirus in Italy, which was the first country in Europe to go into lockdown and is now registering more than 1,500 new cases daily.

 

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ENERGY

Italy’s Draghi criticises Germany over latest energy plan

Outgoing Italian PM Mario Draghi condemned Germany’s €200-billion energy-prices shield, saying EU ‘must act together’.

Italy's Draghi criticises Germany over latest energy plan

Outgoing Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and his likely successor have criticised Germany’s 200-billion move to shield its citizens from rising energy prices, saying Europe must act together to tackle the energy crisis.

“Faced with the common threats of our times, we cannot divide ourselves according to the amount of room in our national budgets,” Draghi said in a press release on Thursday.

READ ALSO: Electricity bills in Italy to rise by 59 percent, warns power regulator

The statement came after Germany introduced a 200-billion ($194-billion) shield to protect households and businesses from soaring energy prices, 

The measure was Germany’s move in what the country’s Finance Minister Christian Lindner described as an “energy war over prosperity and freedom” with Russia.

“The energy crisis requires a response from Europe to reduce costs for families and businesses, to limit exceptional gains made by producers and importers, […] and to keep Europe united once against in the face of an emergency,” Draghi said, commenting on Germany’s move.

At a meeting of EU energy ministers in Brussels on Friday, Italy’s Roberto Cingolani reiterated Rome’s support for an EU-wide cap on the price of gas – something Draghi has long been calling for.

“Everyone has recognised that there is a priority at the moment, which is to bring down the cost of gas. But there is also a second priority, [that is] to avoid creating a shortage of gas in doing so,” Cingolani said.

READ ALSO: Portofino mayor offers residents €400 to offset energy bills

Draghi will only be in office for a few more weeks, after which he will likely be replaced by Giorgia Meloni, whose far-right Brothers of Italy party triumphed at last Sunday’s elections.

Like Draghi, Meloni has backed the idea of a European price cap thus far. 

Ahead of Friday’s energy meeting in Brussels, the soon-to-be new Italian PM also appeared to criticise Germany as she called for “an immediate European response” to the energy crisis.

“No member state can offer effective and long-term solutions on its own in the absence of a common strategy, not even those that appear less financially vulnerable,” she added.

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