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Jan 14, 2015

Italian President Napolitano departs, setting challenge for Renzi

ROME (Reuters) – Italian President Giorgio Napolitano handed in his resignation as head of state on Wednesday, leaving Prime Minister Matteo Renzi with the politically delicate task of finding a successor.

The 89-year-old Napolitano, widely respected outside Italy as a guarantor of stability during the euro zone crisis, had always been expected to step down before the end of his second term in office because of his advanced age.

Jan 2, 2015

Former Greek PM Papandreou sets up new party, complicating election outlook

ATHENS (Reuters) – Former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou announced the creation of a new political party on Friday, confirming a long-expected split from the center-left PASOK and complicating the potential outcome of this month’s national election.

The new party, dubbed “Movement for Change”, has yet to detail policies but they are expected to be similar to those of PASOK, part of the ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s center-right New Democracy.

Dec 31, 2014

Italy president says he will step down soon

ROME (Reuters) – Italy’s 89-year-old President Giorgio Napolitano said on Wednesday that he would step down soon because of his age, leaving Prime Minister Matteo Renzi facing a delicate political challenge to replace him.

After dropping hints for months, Napolitano began the president’s annual end-year address by saying he was speaking also to his successor, who would “soon” take his place.

Dec 31, 2014

Italy presidential choice poses problem for PM Renzi

ROME (Reuters) – An expected decision by Italy’s president to step down next year would leave Prime Minister Matteo Renzi facing one of his most delicate political challenges.

After dropping hints for months, 89-year-old Giorgio Napolitano, is likely to indicate in an end-of-year address on Wednesday evening that he will leave his post early next year, although he may not name an exact date.

Dec 29, 2014

Ferry stricken by blaze fully evacuated, seven dead

ROME/ATHENS, Dec 29 (Reuters) – Rescue teams on Monday
completed the evacuation of nearly 500 people from a car ferry
that caught fire off Greece’s Adriatic coast, working through
the night and defying high seas and freezing weather in a
36-hour drama.

But seven people were killed in the incident, the Italian
coastguard said.

The fire broke out on a vehicle deck of the Norman Atlantic
ferry, which was carrying 478 passengers and crew and more than
200 vehicles, early on Sunday. Rescue efforts were immediately
complicated by bad weather.

Dec 10, 2014

Italy’s Northern League calls for EU to be ‘demolished’

ROME (Reuters) – In a European political landscape increasingly populated with insurgent, anti-system parties, Italy’s eurosceptic anti-immigrant Northern League is the latest to profit from a groundswell of hostility to the European Union.

The League’s 41-year-old leader, Matteo Salvini calls the euro a “criminal currency” and wants to demolish the Brussels consensus that has dominated European politics since the end of World War Two. He is also, at odds with mainstream leaders, an admirer of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Dec 4, 2014

Rome mayor orders review of contracts amid graft scandal

ROME (Reuters) – The mayor of Rome ordered a review of city contracts on Thursday after a police investigation revealed a web of corrupt relationships between politicians and criminals in the Italian capital.

Police arrested 37 people and placed dozens more under investigation on Tuesday in the latest scandal to hit Italy, ranked one of the most corrupt countries in Europe in Transparency International’s latest global corruption index.

Dec 3, 2014

Topless Salvini woos Italy’s voters from bedroom

ROME (Reuters) – Matteo Salvini, the 41-year-old leader of the anti-euro Northern League party, chose a bare-chested, bedroom photoshoot in a weekly magazine on Wednesday to underline his status as the newest sensation in Italian politics.

Despite the gimmick, Salvini, who took over his party last year after a financial scandal brought down its founder Umberto Bossi, has steadily emerged as a potentially serious challenger to Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

Nov 29, 2014

‘Tired’ Grillo overhauls leadership of Italy’s 5-Star Movement

ROME (Reuters) – Beppe Grillo, the unruly comic who built Italy’s 5-Star Movement into one of the most potent anti-establishment forces in Europe, is struggling to stop a steady slide following months of infighting and electoral setbacks.

After a week that saw two local election defeats and two parliamentary members expelled from the party, Grillo announced his movement needed a more formal leadership structure.

Nov 24, 2014

Italy’s Renzi wins regional vote, low turnout sends warning

ROME (Reuters) – Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s center-left Democratic Party (PD) won regional elections in Calabria and Emilia Romagna on Sunday but an exceptionally low turnout suggested growing disillusion among many voters.

After years of economic crisis that has created hardship among a growing number of Italians, the lackluster turnout was a clear warning sign for Renzi as he faces pressure to push through potentially unpopular financial belt-tightening.