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Italy’s Taxing Election

Given the economic and political tumult roiling not only Italy, but the eurozone as a whole, the outcome of Italy's election will have a far-reaching impact. Just what that impact will be, however, is impossible to predict – that is, unless Silvio Berlusconi returns to power, in which case the consequences will be all too clear.

MILAN – A winter election is not to Italian tastes. But, on February 24-25, up to 50 million voters will go to the polls to elect a new parliament, delivering Italy’s 62nd government in the last 65 years.

Since November 2011, Italy has been led not by a politician, but by an academic economist and a former European Union commissioner, Mario Monti. His emergency technocratic government, supported by the left and right, was a masterstroke of outgoing President Giorgio Napolitano.

Napolitano’s move was crucial, filling Italy’s need to replace the inefficient and scandal-ridden Silvio Berlusconi, in whom fellow leaders and global markets had lost all confidence, with an internationally respected figure. Under Monti’s leadership, reforms were finally initiated and markets were calmed.

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