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January 23, 2018

Berlusconi is a pro-European once again

We find it quite hard to report on the promises of Italian political parties with a straight face. Silvio Berlusconi went to Brussels yesterday for a two-day visit, during which he met Jean-Claude Juncker who greeted him liked an old friend. Berlusconi made a formal commitment that he will respect the 3% - a commitment brokered by his old chum Antonio Tajani, a member of Berlusconi's Forza Italia and now president of the European Parliament. But the 3% pledge is a complete joke because it is technically based on a Laffer-curve argument. Berlusconi wants to implement a flat tax, with which he hopes to raise GDP, and thus depress the level of debt-to-GDP to 124% - down by 10pp. It is on that basis that he wants to respect the 3% rule. Translated: he does not see the 3% rule as a political constraint, but as the outcome of his policies.

In other Italian election news, on Monday Corriere della Sera offered a good summary of the political agenda of the Five Star Movement. There are some notable similarities. Here are the most important items:

  • curtail immigration;
  • financial aid for families with children; 
  • no referendum on the euro; 
  • reducing debt/GDP by 40pp, and respecting the 3% deficit rule;
  • undoing of the pension reforms of 2011;
  • a public infrastructure investment bank.
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