The Pros and Cons of a Flat Tax in Italy

Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi arrives for a European Council meeting in Brussels, June 24, 2011
Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi arrives for a European Council meeting in Brussels, June 24, 2011 (European Council)

Center-right parties in Italy, led by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, are calling for a flat tax of 15 to 20 percent.

The single rate would replace the current five income tax brackets and possibly the two businesses taxes (national and regional).

Renato Brunetta, the leader of Berlusconi’s Forza Italia in the lower house of parliament, tells the Financial Times: “It’s the fiscal shock that will make Italy emerge from the trap it’s been in for the past decades.”

Here are the pros and cons. Read more

Italy’s Right Makes Pact, Democrats Open Door to Grand Coalition

Antonio Tajani, the president of the European Parliament, listens to former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi during a meeting of European conservative party leaders in Brussels, October 19, 2017
Antonio Tajani, the president of the European Parliament, listens to former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi during a meeting of European conservative party leaders in Brussels, October 19, 2017 (EPP)

Italy’s two other right-wing parties have given into a demand from the leader of the anti-immigrant Northern League, Matteo Salvini, for a “pact” against “shady deals” with the center-left.

A joint manifesto unveiled this weekend promises lower taxes, lower immigration and the reversal of a long-overdue raise in the pension age.

Salvini has ruled out deals with centrists, saying the “three legs” of the conservative movement — counting his own party, Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and the smaller Brothers of Italy — are enough to win the election in March.

The three are polling at close to 40 percent support, which may be enough to form a government. Read more

Italy’s Salvini Commits to Right-Wing Pact, Asks Same of Berlusconi

Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy's Northern League, gives a speech in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, March 15
Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy’s Northern League, gives a speech in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, March 15 (European Parliament)

Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy’s anti-immigrant Northern League, has ruled out reneging on a right-wing pact and asked Silvio Berlusconi, the leader of the mainstream conservatives, to do the same.

Both parties get around 15 percent support in recent surveys. In combination with smaller right-wing parties, they might just reach the 40 percent needed to form a government.

If they fall short, Salvini could theoretically team up with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, which is polling at 26-28 percent.

Salvini and the Five Stars share views on Europe and political reform, but they come at it from opposite ends of the political spectrum.

Both have ruled out an alliance. Read more

Young Italians Blame EU, But Their Problems Are Homegrown

View of the Piazza del Duomo in Milan, Italy, November 24, 2009
View of the Piazza del Duomo in Milan, Italy, November 24, 2009 (Bjørn Giesenbauer)

In most European countries, young people are more supportive of the EU than their elders.

In Italy, Politico reports, the trend is reversed.

If a referendum on EU membership were held, one in two Italians under the age of 45 would vote to leave. Only a quarter of those over 45 would do the same.

Younger voters’ unhappiness with the EU came from a sense that what’s good for the bloc comes at Italy’s expense. Strong majorities among the young said that the migrant crisis showed the EU could not be counted on to help Italy with its biggest challenges.

Hence support for the Euroskeptic Five Star Movement and Northern League, which are polling at a combined 40 percent. Read more

Consolidation on the Italian Left

Italian Senate speaker Pietro Grasso arrives at the University of Pavia, November 13
Italian Senate speaker Pietro Grasso arrives at the University of Pavia, November 13 (Università di Pavia)

Both left-wing opponents and supporters of the former Italian prime minister, Matteo Renzi, are strengthening their ties ahead of parliamentary elections.

  • Dissidents from Renzi’s Democratic Party are due to join the far left in new party, led by Senate speaker Pietro Grasso.
  • Grasso has ruled out an alliance with the Democrats. He left the party in October.
  • The Progressive Camp, led by the former mayor of Milan, Giuliano Pisapia, is willing to do a deal with the Democrats provided they support a bill that would give citizenship to the children of immigrants who have spent at least five years in Italian schools. Read more

Italian Parties Draw Battle Lines Ahead of Election

Prime Ministers Matteo Renzi of Italy and Shinzō Abe of Japan attend a ceremony in Tokyo, August 3, 2015
Prime Ministers Matteo Renzi of Italy and Shinzō Abe of Japan attend a ceremony in Tokyo, August 3, 2015 (Palazzo Chigi)

Italian parties are drawing battle lines ahead of next year’s parliamentary elections:

  • Democratic Party leader Matteo Renzi, who hopes to become prime minister for a second time, has ruled out another grand coalition with Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia. Polls suggest such a left-right pact may be the only alternative to a Euroskeptic government.
  • Small left-wing parties have ruled out an alliance with the Democrats. Senate speaker Pietro Grasso, who broke with Renzi in October, is planning to lead a new party, which could split the left-wing vote in favor of the right and the populist Five Star Movement.
  • Berlusconi is appealing a ban from public office, owing to a conviction for tax fraud, to the European Court of Human Rights, but it is unlikely to rule in time for him to stand for election.
  • The formerly separatist Northern League, which splits the right-wing vote with Berlusconi’s party, has said it would rather go into government with the Five Star Movement than Renzi.
  • The Five Stars have ruled out coalitions altogether. Read more

Italy’s Small Left Rejects Pact, Making Defeat More Likely

Pier Luigi Bersani speaks at a Democratic Party event in Bologna, Italy, February 24, 2012
Pier Luigi Bersani speaks at a Democratic Party event in Bologna, Italy, February 24, 2012 (Partito Democratico Emilia Romagna/Vincenzo Menichella)

Italy’s smaller left-wing party has ruled out a pact with Matteo Renzi’s Democrats, making a populist or right-wing victory more likely in the upcoming election.

Pier Luigi Bersani, a former Democratic Party leader who now belongs to the dissident Democrats and Progressives, has rejected Renzi’s overtures as “theatrics”. Read more