Sunday, November 19, 2006

Juggling Coalitions in Italy

Italy’s prime minister Romano Prodi faces one of the more challenging chores in modern politics. Here’s an excerpt from The Wall Street Journal article:

Whether Mr. Prodi can last beyond Christmas, no one knows. But can Italy afford such political instability? Of the Continent's big countries, Italy's ailments are by wide consensus the most serious--no mean feat considering the competition from Germany and France. Growth is negligible (though rising from about zero last year); productivity is declining and export markets shrinking; universities spend a third of what America does on each student; Italy's labor pool has the highest share of the unskilled of any OECD country but Mexico; the population is declining and public finances are in disarray. In any scenario for a crisis in the euro zone, Italy plays the lead part. And, oh, throw in a weak (and wasteful) state, entrenched corruption and rising Mafia violence. This mess is now Mr. Prodi's responsibility.

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