Elections Updates (5)
I — Political analyst Renato Mannheimer, one of Italy’s top pollsters, on the second and last U.S.-style TV confrontation between Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his rival Romano Prodi:
How many votes did the Berlusconi-Prodi clash actually swing? The ban on publishing poll results means that a precise estimate cannot be made but in the opinion of various commentators, the debate’s impact was limited. In fact, it was lower than expected. Both contenders had two goals. First, they aimed to persuade potential abstainers – who make up most of the undecided voters – to go into the polling booths and vote for their coalition. Their second aim was to consolidate consensus acquired so far. In the event, both leaders seem to have achieved the second aim more successfully than the first.
II — AGI’s reports on the duel and the post-debate reactions:
(AGI) – Rome, 4 April – At the final whistle the Knight [Berlusconi] tried for a knock out uppercut: the abolition of ICI tax on the first home. No reply from the Professor [Prodi]. Time had run out. In the most recent TV duel between Silvio Berlusconi and Romano Prodi that saw a share down by 10 points (4 million fewer from 16 to 12 million viewers compared to the first meeting on 14 March) but fevers were high: witness the effort made by the arbiter Bruno Vespa to bring calm down the exchange of under the belt blows: "a drunk"; "a useless idiot". The day after the big match was no different. For Massimo D’Alema the matter of the ICI tax "is a blunder, otherwise we stand before Vanna Marchi and Italy cannot trust in Vanna Marchi", who yesterday made a comeback in the newspapers. And again for D’Alema, the knight "is like Toto selling the Trevi Fountain", "he’s ready to sell the State in order to win the election". "But the voters won’t believe stories……….." claimed Romano Prodi on the remark on the ICI tax on the first home. "They’ve believed it once – he warned – this time they’ll know what to do". The Knight, despite the revolt on the part of the unions, keeps going: "You’ll realise that it’s something that really is nothing to worry about" and that it is absurd to cause alarm on where the money will come from in order to abolish the ICI tax, being an expenditure that goes "from 2.3 to 2.5 billion euros. It’s something that is completely sustainable. It’s terrible to say that the funds aren’t there. They are easily found. It’s like one point of a tax tranche. The unions will not be angry" and will recoup 30 pct of the increase in taxes via tax evasion control. For the Knight, "a Prodi government is to be feared because it wants to spread taxes. Anyone voting for the left chooses to become poor…". Abolishing the ICI tax "is plausible and righteous" said Finance Minister Tremonti, "it could be funded by fighting off tax cheating, and by selling state assets". ICI "makes 2 bln euro, hence only 0.3 pct of the overall revenue from taxes, not much for the state, but a lot for the people". Even Agriculture Minister Alemanno believes so: "modifying the ICI, focusing more on second and vacant homes is possible". According to deputy PM Fini, the criticisms againt the PM "are groundless".
(AGI) – Rome, April 4 – All round clash and tension for the second round of Prodi vs. Berlusconi. The face-to-face meeting moderated by Bruno Vespa touched on several issues such as tax, public accounts, safety, war in Iraq. The debate was not devoid of "rough" moments, accusations and interruptions. The issue of women too caused some high tension between the leaders. Prodi denounced a poor policy in this field, while the PM announced unexpectedly that if he won there might be a woman Vice PM. Regarding the war in Iraq, Berlusconi confirmed the Italian commitment even while he assured that the troops would soon be brought home; the Union?s leader, on the other hand, accused Berlusconi of spending the entire budget allotted to the Iraq operation in military aims as opposed to humanitarian ones. Silvio Berlusconi’s final coup on the abolition of the Ici (home tax) brought immediate reactions from the mayors. Rome’s mayor, Veltroni, said that "Berlusconi must now explain how he plans to compensate for the lesser entries and that in this way Rome may be forced to cut down even on essential services to citizens’. Florence’s Mayor and president of Anci, Domenici, thinks alike, declaring that he is "convinced that without that tax Municipalities cannot work". Turin’s mayor, Sergio Chiamparino, talked about "demagogic ideas" and protested thus: "in this way we shall force cities to increase other taxes". Cacciari and Cofferati (Venice and Bologna’s mayors respectively) attacked the premier saying that Berlusconi’s exploit was "a bad card to play". Adriana Poli Bortone (An), mayor of Lecce, declared herself in favour: "the tax may be abolished by recovering resources from tax evasions".
III — International reports on the duel and the post-debate reactions:
> Berlusconi promises to abolish council tax (The Guardian, April 4)
> Berlusconi accused of hitting new low after ‘dickheads’ jibe (The Guardian, April 5)
> Berlusconi’s ‘testicle’ insult overshadows poll debate (The Independent, April 5)
> Berlusconi’s tax pledge rebounds (Financial Times, April 4)
Categorie:somewhere in italy