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Tough times for Italians, premier says

Megan Williams Apr 15, 2008


Scott Jagow: To Italy we go now. Silvio Berlusconi is back. He’s been elected Italy’s premier for the third time in 14 years. Let’s bring in our correspondent in Rome, Megan Williams. Megan, he’s been in and out of office, love and hated. Why are Italians turning to Mr. Berlusconi again?

Megan Williams: Well, you have to look at who’s turning to him. It’s generally older voters who’ve had some economic stability, state jobs, who are scared. I mean, they know the economy’s turning down, and Berlusconi has always reassured them that he’s going to protect them and their families. But it’s interesting, because, you know, six years ago when he was elected, he promised all sorts of economic miracles. He’s not saying that this time, although what he’s saying he’s gonna do is similar, but he’s saying, you know, we’re in for some tough times.

Jagow: Another issue for him is Italy’s national airlines, Alitalia. Big problems. What is he saying about Alitalia?

Williams: Well, to say Alitalia is in dire straits is a vast understatement. I mean, Alitalia is losing a million euros a day. And Air France was about to buy it, and then the unions kind of sabotaged that deal in the end. But what was interesting is just before elections Berlusconi came out protesting against the sale to a foreign country, saying Alitalia should remain in Italy. The only thing he’s said so far is that he’ll kind of slap together a bunch of Italian investors who will somehow save the company. But it’s a company that’s owned half by the Italian state. So, who’s going to be paying for this mess? Taxpayers.

Jagow:OK. Megan Williams in Rome. Thank you


Williams: Thanks, Scott

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