Italians are gearing up to vote on Feb. 24-25, at the tail end of Milan Fashion Week, to determine the 630 members of the Chamber of Deputies and the 315 elective members of the Senate, the two houses of the Italian Parliament. The election will determine the composition of the 17th Parliament of the Italian Republic and its Prime Minister.
In a difficult economy, hurt by crimped consumer spending and high unemployment, the fashion industry is keeping an eye on the elections, concerned with issues such as tax rates, the banking system and access to credit and laws to promote exports. Here, a look at who's in the running.
The unshakeable thrice Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, president of center-right The People of Freedom party, founder of media giant Fininvest, which controls publishing house Mondadori, and owner of Milan soccer team. Among the main points of Berlusconi’s program:
• Suppression of a city tax called IMU and return of the money spent for IMU tax, which had been introduced by former Prime Minister Mario Monti.
• Lower policy administration costs.
• More independence from the European Union.
• Federal Reform.
• The re-launch of Southern Italy economy.
• Support of the “Traditional Family” founded on the marriage between a man and a woman.
• Fiscal reform.
• Bank reform.
• Support to enterprises.
• Development of Tourism.
• Development and replacement of Italian transports.
Berlusconi’s main opponent:Pier Luigi Bersani, head of the Democratic Party, a former Minister of Economic Development, Minister of Transport and Navigation, and Minister of Industry and Commerce. The party’s main issues:
• Lower policy administration costs.
• Review of the IMU tax.
• Gay rights — civil union proposal.
• Women’s rights — more opportunities for women.
• Green economy and care of environment.
• Investments of 50 billion euros ($66 billion at current exchange) in Italian enterprises.
• More jobs and more investments for schools and hospitals.
Former Prime Minister Mario Monti of moderate Civic Choice and a former Minister of Economy and Finance and European Commissioner. The party’s priorities are:
• Work Reform — Fight temporary employment.
• Lower taxes.
• Reduce the number of the Members of Parliament.
• Remove taxes on women’s work.
• Reform the schools.
The outsider, former comedian and actor, activist Beppe Grillo, founder of left-wing Five Star Movement, whose main goals are:
• Parliament Reform.
• More power to the Italian citizen.
• Energy reforms.
• More access to technology (free Internet).
Magistrate Antonio Ingroia of left-party Civil Action. After working with the Antimafia pool of the late magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, who were killed in 1992 by the Mafia, in 2009 he became deputy chief anti-mafia prosecutor of Palermo. Civil Action’s program:
• Fight against economic and financial oligarchy.
• Increased attention to fight Mafia.
• Recognition of people’s rights — gay marriage — and women equality.
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