Tag Archives: italy

Theresa May vows to ‘work closely’ with Italy after Renzi steps down

Theresa May speaking at a press conference with Matteo Renzi this summer [FLICKR]
Britain will “work closely” with Italy’s next leader after the dramatic resignation of Matteo Renzi, Downing Street has said.

Renzi stepped down this morning after Italians rejected his plans for constitutional reform in a referendum.

Theresa May’s spokesman said the Prime Minister would seek to speak with Mr Renzi over the coming days.

The Italian prime minister stepped down this morning [CREATIVE COMMONS]
But she stressed the outcome of the vote was “a decision for the Italian people”.

Mrs May visited Rome just days after entering Downing Street in May.

Her spokesman said: “The Prime Minister has had good relations with Matteo Renzi since she took office.

Her spokesman said: “The Prime Minister has had good relations with Matteo Renzi since she took office.

“She was appreciative of the way she was welcomed in Rome and the work we have done together in previous years on an ambitious programme of reform.

“Now we look to the future and we will want to work closely with the Italian government.”

In an emotional televised address last night, Renzi accepted full responsibility for the “extraordinarily clear” defeat.

The 41-year-old added:

The experience of my government ends here.

It is not yet clear who will replace him, but his departure has plunged the European Union into further turmoil following June’s Brexit vote.


World’s Oldest Person Emma Morano Celebrates Her 117th Birthday

Emma Morano blows out birthday candles surrounded by loved ones. Photo – ABC News

Emma Morano, currently the world’s oldest living person, celebrates her 117th birthday this week. Ms. Morano was born on 29 November 1899 in Italy and is known as the only living person from the 1800s. Morano’s birth year coincided with Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi’s first radio transmission across the English Channel and the founding of what is now known as Italy’s largest automobile manufacturer, Fiat.

Morano is the eldest of eight siblings, born to a family in Civiasco, a small town in Piedmont. She is the oldest living sibling, her younger sister; Angela made it to her 102nd birthday before passing away. Emma’s niece Maria Antonietta Sala now cares for her in her home, a tiny two-room apartment in Verbania, on the shores of Lake Maggiore.

Guinness World Records crowned Morano the oldest person living following the death of former titleholder Susannah Mushatt Jones, who passed away in May.

Morano talks through her diet, which may certainly seem unorthodox and unbalanced to some. In an article celebrating her 115th birthday, Morano said she ate two raw and one cooked egg a day, however she’s since cut down as she thinks three can be “too much.” Morano initially started eating raw eggs during her teens following a doctor’s recommendation in order to counter anaemia.

She maintained the same diet for the past 90 years, consisting of eggs, ground meat, fresh Italian pasta and a banana a day. Her niece Maria said that she has also cut meat out of her diet completely following her belief that it could lead to a tumour. Her doctor, Carlo Bava says that she has excellent health, for which Morano credits her elixir consisting of raw eggs.

Ms. Morano shares more of her secrets to the longevity of her life – believing that being single for the most part of her life has enabled her to live for many years. She was initially engaged in her early twenties, however her husband was called to the front during the First World War and upon leaving never returned. Presuming he had died, Morano married in 1926, however her marriage fell apart following the death of her infant son in 1938, at just 6 months old. Morano said that she was one of the first women in Italy to kick out their husband, as separation was frowned upon until the recent legalisation of divorce in 1970. She later revealed that her marriage had been abusive and she had been blackmailed into marriage at just 26 years old. Since then, Emma explains she has been involved in several courtships, but ultimately decided not to seek marriage – “I didn’t want to be dominated by anyone” she says.

Dr. Bava believes her sharp memory and stable health condition is due to the fact Emma is cared for by loved ones. Bava, who has been Morano’s doctor for almost two decades, says

“The secret is in growing old with people who love you, which is different from growing old and being put up with.”

During her lifetime, Ms. Morano has seen over 90 Italian governments and two wars. Following the First and Second World Wars, she saw the transformation of Italy’s economy into one of the world’s most industrialised nations. Unlike many people, Morano’s life has spanned three centuries, leaving her with many intimate memories of her childhood and teenage years with family and friends.

The Colombian Plane Crash: What has the global media reaction been like?

Monday’s plane crash in Medellín, Colombia caused global shockwaves. The chartered airplane, run by Bolivian airline LaMia, carried 77 passengers from Santa Cruz in Bolivia with Medellín, Colombia’s second-largest city, the intended destination. Only six people survived the crash.

The particular news that has reached global headlines is that Brazilian team Chapecoense were on board – and only three of them survived. The division one team were flying to play in the final of the Copa Sudamericana – the South American equivalent to the Europa League. Their story has tugged at the heartstrings of many: they were promoted to Série A in 2014, having made their way up from being in the fourth division only seven years ago. This final was the first one they had ever reached – and players, staff, and sports journalists alike were overjoyed to be travelling to Medellín to play against Belo Horizonte based team Atletico Mineiro.

13096710464_9e3e335b9d_kSource | Chapecoense players celebrating a goal in February 2014

Media reactions have varied from place to place, with some countries opting to focus more on the facts and figures as opposed to the human side of the crash.

Here’s how the media reacted around Europe…

Italy / Tommaso Ciani

The Colombian air disaster involving Chapecoense reminded the Italian media of the Grande Torino’s sport tragedy of 1949. In the aftermath of WWII, Torino FC, based in the Northern Italian city of Torino, was one of the strongest teams of all time. However, the team, now called ‘Grande Torino’, perished in a dramatic air disaster. At 5.03pm on May 4th, the team’s aircraft crashed into the wall of the Basilica of Superga due to thick fog. All the 31 people on board died, including players, coaching staff and several journalists. The media paid particular attention to outline the similarities between the two tragedies, focusing on the emotional side of the story. Torino FC hope to play Chapecoense in a memorial match.

Corriere Della Sera | From Grande Torino to Chapecoense: The air crashes that shocked the sports world

Portugal / Daniela Costa

The plane accident in Colombia wasn’t just another regular international story in Portuguese media. Portugal has very close ties with Brazil – the two countries share a language and have maintained a healthy relationship of mutual cooperation for more than 4 centuries. Although the national media reported the story according to the facts, the coverage tended to be quite emotional. This happened not only because football is a love that both countries share, but also since there are a lot of Portuguese people currently living in Brazil,and many Brazilian immigrants residing in Portugal.
Brazilian TV channels also have a strong relationship with Portuguese media, so a lot of foreign correspondents were able to report it first-hand. Content on Portuguese news channels focused on the people who were killed and the survivors, having released a video with the details of the victims. Both broadcasters and newspapers have been updating the story daily.

TVI24 | Colombia plane crash: news every minute

Finland / Sara Laitinen

In Finland the coverage of the crash has been very facts and figures based, although there were some human stories in between as well. Ilta-Sanomat, a tabloid paper, has published several articles about the Colombian plane crash over the past few days. They have focused more on the victims and survivors as well as the Brazilian football team as a whole. However, Helsingin Sanomat, the most read newspaper in Finland, has only published four articles about the incident so far, and has focused more on the facts and figures about the crash rather than the individual victims.
There was more coverage about the crash on the TV and radio news, but they were again more focused on the facts and figures, although YLE  (the Finnish equivalent of the BBC) did publish an article where they had gathered some tweets and last photos of the football team.

Helsinki Sanomat | Six survived Colombia’s air crash – 75 are dead. The plane was carrying a Brazilian football team.

Bulgaria / Pavlena Todorova

The Bulgarian media did in-depth reports on the plane crash in Columbia. One of the most popular media companies, Nova, focused their breaking news on the fact that one of the victims used to play for the Bulgarian team CSK. They put comments from his ex teammates about how kind of a person Filipe Machado was. They also shared tweets from the Telegraph and put links to other articles – with pictures of the team and an article about how to get over your fear of flying.The other popular media “BTV” went with more general reporting for their breaking news: “A plane with Brazilian football players crashed in Columbia” was their headline. They also shared tweets, which is a relatively new method adopted by the Bulgarian media.

Nova | A plane full of football players crashed in Columbia, and ex-CSKA player is among the victims

Many football fans on social media have highlighted the similarities between this crash and Torino FC’s history, as well as the Munich Air Disaster that killed 8 players and 3 staff from UK football club Manchester United in 1958.

It’s interesting to see how reporting varies around Europe, with Bulgarian media even taking the opportunity to promote an article on overcoming a fear of flying. Despite differences in reporting, the disaster is being felt far wider than the South American continent.

Renzi goes All-In: A Quick Guide to the Italian Referendum

“Everything needs to change, so everything can stay the same,” wrote Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa in his masterpiece “The Leopard” in 1959. More relevant today than ever before; this statement perfectly depicts Italy’s current situation. In a period of political turmoil, monopolised by the imminent constitutional referendum, few things have changed in the country – the public’s inability to take a stance and both its decay and dismay are not among those.

Italians will be asked to make one of the thorniest decisions since the 1994 general elections on whether to change a stagnant system, most prominent in the aftermath of WWII, or keep a conservative, but “safe” constitution; the crucial episode that marked Silvio Berlusconi’s rise to power.

Italy’s Camera dei Deputati

What the ‘yes’ side stands for

The referendum question comes straight to the point, asking whether citizens are willing to subvert the so-called “perfect bicameralism”- dismantling the Senate, one of the two Chambers of the Italian legislative system.

As of now, in fact, the Senate has the same power of the Camera dei Deputati, the other’s parliamentary Chamber. This dualism is causing several delays, since when one of the Chambers makes some changes, a law proposal needs to be discussed again in both the Senate and the Camera dei Deputati. Besides getting rid of this annoying ping-pong, the reform is claimed to cut the expenses, halving the number of Parliamentarians, and make the legislative system quicker.

Instead of the actual form of Senate, Matteo Renzi, Italy’s PM, has proposed to set an innovative Chamber, representative of Italy’s biggest metropoles and regions. This new institutional organ, deliberately inspired by the German model, would act as an intermediary between the government and the local institutions, lightening the Camera dei Deputati’s load and making peripheral areas heard.

Supporters of the ‘yes’ side

Varied and politically distant souls are supporting the constitutional change. Mr. Renzi is the leader of the coalition with a wide range of support: from the right-wing, moderate NCD (Nuovo Centro Destra), to the majority of Renzi’s PD (Partito Democratico) and the most radical left-wing factions, such as SEL (Sinistra Ecologia e Libertà). Even the authoritative former President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano has expressed his support.

Giorgio Napolitano and Matteo Renzi

What the ‘no’ side stands for

On the other hand, Renzi’s constitutional reform reveals problems that are thought to call off all its positive attempts at modernizing the system. Firstly, the new constitution has been hugely criticised for its language, considered inappropriate and particularly arid for an institutional text. Emblematic example of that is Article 70, originally made of 9 words and now turned into a Decalogue of 483 words, which should outline the Senate’s new tasks. The reform would not therefore ease the procedure, potentially creating even more confusion.

Moreover, by cutting out the Senate, the reform would give great power to the Camera dei Deputati, which will become the executive centre of Italian politics. Given that Italy has had 63 governments in 70 years, this may mark the end of the country’s political instability. However, with the current electorate law, the winning party at the election would gain an overall majority able to make the winning coalition stronger than ever before in the Parliament. Thus, the reform is claimed not to rightfully represent parliamentary minorities, hence taking a turn for the authoritarian. Lastly, the proposed region-representative Senate would take away time from mayors’ and all the regions’ representatives involved in it, as there would not be enough time to simultaneously be Members of the Parliament and members of a local authority.

Supporters of the ‘no’ side

Among the opponents, the nationalist Movimento Cinque Stelle (Five Stars Movement) is taking the tougher stance. In particular, its leader, the comedian Beppe Grillo, has started a crusade against Renzi and the ruling class, having identified the referendum as crucial to subvert the political status quo and call on new general elections. Supported by a group of constitutional experts and jurists, among whom is worth naming Gustavo Zagrebelsky, who signed a petition in favour of the ‘no’. Also the most socialist component of Renzi’s PD and Berlusconi’s Forza Italia are opposing the reform.

Beppe Grillo – Leader of Movimento 5 Stelle

The Polls and Renzi’s personalisation of the campaign

As of now, the polls clearly show the ‘no’ side is ahead. However, it is worth mentioning the huge amount of hesitant voters who will either lean toward the ‘yes’ cause or abstain from voting, according to most of the pollsters. Many argue that if the turnout ends up to be more than 55% of the electorate, the ‘yes’ has concrete chances of winning the fight. In this context, Mr. Renzi is trying not to repeat mistake made by Cameron in EU referendum. Initially, in fact, Italy’s PM personalised the whole campaign, making the vote closer to a general election than a constitutional change. On the wavelength of the 2014 EU Parliamentary elections, in which his PD (Partito Democratico) got 40% of the preferences, Mr. Renzi decided to deliberately go all-in, enjoying the favour of the public opinion, now much more hostile. However, his bluff failed. Promising to leave politics and to resign if the ‘no’ side would win, Renzi has now partially retracted those words, making not clear what would come next whether the reform would not be approved. Therefore, only the second time, Renzi changed his strategy, leaning toward a more cautious, referendum-based approach. Few hours before the vote, nobody can spot whether this forced, but still partially efficacious, political twist will pay off. For sure, the ‘no’ side has already reached its peak and from then on it has certainly dropped. Whether this will be enough to prove the polls wrong is yet be seen.