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BBC World Service

Italian lawmakers vote on austerity measures

Steve Chiotakis Dec 16, 2011

Steve Chiotakis: A big vote is going on right now in Italy — in essence, a confidence vote for Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, who heads a new government to deal with Italy’s part in the eurozone crisis. Lawmakers are also looking at a $43 billion package of cuts and reforms that would help restore confidence in Italy’s economy.

The BBC’s Alan Johnston is in Rome and he has more on that story. Hey Alan.

Alan Johnston: Hi, hello.

Chiotakis: Is this new plan actually going to get Italy’s debt problem under control, do you think?

Johnston: Well, I guess if Mario Monti, the new prime minister, was here, he would tell you that it’s a start, at least. There’s a lot more restructuring that needs to go on, but he would say it’s a beginning.

Some, though, would argue that he’s started too tamely, others would say that he needs to go more quickly, more rapidly. Still others — on the left of the spectrum, especially — have argued that this package of austerity measures is too hard on the poorest and the oldest Italians.

Chiotakis: This all seems to be not just a test for Italy, but for the whole eurozone pact, right?

Johnston: Certainly Italy is on the front line of this really major eurozone crisis. Italy is in as much danger as any country, perhaps, of being crushed by its weight of debt. And the money markets have looked at Italy and worried very much about its financial situation, and they have very much wanted to see the kind of austerity measures that we are beginning to see being introduced by this new government.

Chiotakis: The BBC’s Alan Johnston reporting from Rome. Alan, thank you.

Johnston: Thanks, thanks a lot. Cheers.

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