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Italy

Yearbook 1998

1998 ItalyItaly. According to Countryaah, Italy has been something of an economic grief child in the EU, but at the end of February the government was able to publish figures showing that the country met almost all of the so-called convergence requirements to be able to participate in EMU. Although government debt was above 120% of GDP, the trend was falling. Therefore, in early May, the EU Council of Ministers formally approved I's application for membership in EMU.

1998 Italy

Landslides caused by heavy rain swept through several cities in the southern parts of the country in early May. By mid-May, the rescue team had found 147 dead, but 200 people were still missing. The city of Sarno was hit most severely in Campania. On May 10, a joint funeral of 95 of the victims was held here. The funeral was attended by President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro and Prime Minister Romano Prodi. The Prime Minister promised emergency aid to the affected region.

The Right Party Alleanza Nazionale (AN) held a party congress in Verona at the end of February / March. Party leader Gianfranco Fini made a speech with the party's fascist past. He assured that the party broke its historical links to Benito Mussolini's fascist party and emphasized that AN is now an open and modern right-wing party. The speech was met by enthusiastic applause from most of the delegates.

In early October, a government crisis occurred that marked the end of the country's 55th government since the end of the Second World War. Prime Minister Romano Prodi did not get through his 1999 draft budget. Communist Party Rifondazione Comunista (RC) refused to support the austerity budget that Prodi and the governing alliance L'Ulivo (Olive Tree) considered necessary for Italy not to go financially weakened into EMU. The government wanted to implement savings of close to SEK 70 billion, but in recent years the austerity measures have hit hard against large sections of the population and increased resistance to new savings programs.

Romano Prodi led his center-left government for 28 months, the second longest government holding to date after the Second World War. The country's 56th government was formed on October 21 when former Communist Massimo D'Alema, leader of the largest of the former coalition parties, Partito Democratico della Sinistra (PDS), was appointed new prime minister. The government dossier was taken from largely the same parties that were part of L'Ulivo, and some ministers were allowed to keep their posts, including Finance Minister Vicenzo Visco and Budget Minister Carlo Azeglio Ciampi.

Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi faced new adversities in the courtroom and was convicted in July for corruption and for providing illegal financial support to the Socialist Party under the then party leader Benito Craxi. Craxi remained hidden in Tunisia but was sentenced in his absence to four years in prison and very high fines for his involvement in the mutiny. Berlusconi accused the court of having taken a political verdict, an attempt by the sitting left-dominated government to harm the right-wing parties.

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