Italy’s ruling class is in turmoil once more in the run-up to next month’s general election.
Mario Monti, the technocrat appointed to “save” Italy’s tanking economy will battle it out with the disgraced man he replaced—Silvio Berlusconi. Monti revealed last week that he will lead a coalition of the so-called centrist parties into the election.
Monti’s policies of austerity have made him popular with business owners. Berlusconi’s disgraceful record of sleaze, corruption and right wing policies make him hated among many Italians.
He is also in danger of losing key political allies in the far right Northern League. At a meeting last week arguments over policy looked set to break the alliance. But the vacuum on the left means that there is no real alternative for people seeking change.
Italy saw several general strikes last year. The trade unions have put forward points of principle and are asking candidates to sign up.
Thousands of people protested in more than 30 cities around Spain on Friday of last week—known as the Day of the Innocents—demanding the release of Alfonso Fernandez Ortega.
The 21 year old, better known as Alfon, was arrested on his way to a picket line in his neighbourhood on the 14 November general strike day. He has been held ever since, but has yet to be sentenced. He is the last of those arrested in the 14 November strike still in jail.
The constitutional court in France has ruled out a tax of 75 percent on earnings of above £800,000. It was a central campaign promise of Socialist Party president Francois Hollande.
The tax was ruled out on the grounds that it was calculated by individuals’ income but applied to households. The court said this meant that some high-earning couples could slip through a loophole.
Hollande’s prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has promised to redraft the law, but the earliest a second attempt to pass it can happen is June.
The tax was never expected to raise more than a tiny proportion of the deficit that Hollande has pledged to slash, with the majority being raised by cuts.