The first electoral law written by the citizens


>>> Watch the video of yesterday’s event in Bari! Beppe Grillo’s VINCIAMONOI Tour continues! Today in Naples, piazza Sanità - 8:30 pm. Tomorrow in Reggio Emilia, piazza Prampolini - 9:00 pm The live broadcast can be viewed on the blog and on La Cosa VINCIAMONOI! {We’ll win!} <<<<<<<<<<<<

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“The 5 Star MoVement’s electoral law that has been put together via the blog, is now a reality. It’s a historical fact, a unique fact. We have demonstrated that direct democracy can be carried out in place of representative democracy; it’s no longer a matter of giving the politician “carte blanche” but the citizens can participate directly in the construction of laws. We have done this with the electoral law: 40,000 citizens who were signed-up members of the blog have contributed one step at a time, to the construction of all the articles of the electoral law. For the first time, this electoral law gives the citizens true power to make decisions. As you have decided, as we have decided, the citizens will be able to choose their own candidates with a preference vote. There will no longer be coalitions. There will no longer be a majority premium. This means that the elected representatives, representatives of the popular sovereignty in Parliament, will depend on the citizens and no longer on the chief politician.
We have achieved this by providing the opportunity to give a positive preference and a negative preference. (As you can see, these are the two ballot papers: the first - on my left, is the one where you vote for the political entity. Here, you can indicate the political entity and you can cross out either once or twice, any candidates who are unpresentable.) As you will remember, in one of the eight voting sessions, we chose “panachage” {vote splitting}, that means we have two ballot papers: one is to vote for the party, the other is used to give the preference vote. Once you’ve placed your X for the political entity, if there are any candidates that are unpresentable, maybe because they’ve been colluding with the mafia, or people that have spent too much on their election campaign and thus have given themselves too much exposure that is not pleasing to aware and intelligent voters, we can give them a negative preference. And do you know what this means? That the parties will be obliged to put forward people that have credibility, people that are honest and competent and this is because your negative preference will lead to the elimination of a portion of the votes. In this example, there are 10 candidates. If you give one of them a negative preference, that means that the political entity will lose a tenth of the votes and thus the direct consequence is simple: the parties and the political entities will not be able to list any “unpresentable” people as otherwise the citizens will make them lose votes. Thus the power will return to the citizens and the elected representatives will have to be responsive to the citizens. The other consequence, that is even more important, is one of our big battles, that is the constraints associated with the mandate. OK. We’ll insert the constraints associated with the mandate without altering the Constitution. Do you know how we’re going to do that? With the fact that if the elected representative doesn’t keep their promises in Parliament, then the citizens won’t vote for them again and they will no longer be able to stay in politics because they haven’t kept their promises.
You all know that today with the disgusting ‘porcellum' electoral law and with the super-disgusting Italicum electoral law, the re-election of a parliamentarian, of a politician, depends exclusively on the boss. We have eliminated the majority premium, and eliminated the coalitions. The parties put themselves forward on their own. Small parties are obliged to unite together as otherwise - with the system that we have voted for - they will be at a disadvantage. Thus we have even got the effect and the objective of healthy governability and, consequently, the elected representatives will either have to be answerable for what they have promised, and will continue to talk with the citizens, and they’ll continue to explain their decisions and take the requests and the wishes of the citizens to Parliament, or they will no longer be professional politicians. This is truly an extraordinary moment, this is the 5 Star MoVement’s biggest success. It’s the greatest and the most sublime example of direct participation, of direct democracy. Lift up your hearts.”
Vito Crimi and Danilo Toninelli

P.S. Some unsigned emails have been sent to journalists from a so-called umbrella group of units in Calabria using the symbol of the 5 Star MoVement. The senders are formally warned not to identify themselves as the 5 Star MoVement and not to use the 5 Star MoVement’s logo in their communications.


Beppe Grillo’s VINCIAMONOI Tour from 5 May to 23 May. All the dates:
05 May: Cagliari, piazza dei Centomila
06 May: Palermo, piazza Politeama
07 May: Bari, Parco 2 Giugno
Today: Naples, piazza Sanità - 8:30 pm
09 May: Reggio Emilia, piazza Prampolini - 9:00 pm
10 May: Bologna, piazza San Francesco - 6:00pm
11 May: Treviso, piazza dei Signori - 9:15 pm
12 May: Brescia, piazza Duomo - 9:00 pm
13 May: Bergamo, (place to be confirmed) - 8:30 pm
14 May: Novara, Piazza martiri della libertà - 9:00 pm
15 May: Pavia, piazza Vittoria - 9:00 pm
16 May: Tortona, piazza Duomo - 9:00 pm
17 May: Turin, piazza Castello - 3:00 pm
17 May: Verbania, piazzale Flaim - 9:00 pm
18 May: Verona, piazza Bra - 9:00 pm
19 May: day off
20 May: Pescara, piazza 1 maggio - 6:00pm
21 May: Florence, piazza SS. Annunziata (to be confirmed) - 9:00 pm
22 May: Milan, piazza Duomo - 6:30pm
23 May: Rome, piazza San Giovanni - 6:00pm

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 05:37 PM in | Comments (24) | Comments in Italian (translated) Post a comment | Sign up | Send to a friend | | GrilloNews | listen_it_it.gifListen |
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for JOHN W:

you are one constant contradiction and full of inconsistencies!

You spat the dummy in your first post "stools etc" and you criticize others how they should be doing their campaign and then vote for them "so you say!" even though you required a detail program from them!

You are one of many interested in delegitimizing someone's campaign in fear of the potential win that they could have!

I discuss things with people that I have something in common with, you are not that person "worlds apart you said..remember?", lack of intelligence and use of adjectives that aim to create innuendo.

Discuss whatever you wish with relevant people at your level!

I discuss policies not how many degrees you have or how successful you are!

good luck

Posted by: john buatti | May 11, 2014 04:28 PM

John Boite, Just like all Joe's followers, you can't stand criticism or comments which go against your 'syphilosophy', can you?
End of diatribe, you unspeakable toite. Prrrrr ...!

Posted by: John Waddington | May 11, 2014 03:50 PM

for John W.
do you recall "stools"?
do you recall "detailed program"?

If you are so good why are you wasting your time on Grillo's politics?

Enjoy your achievements... and live it up!

Stop pretending to be a battler and then you flag how good you are!

Give your talents to the political party that provides you with a fully detailed program and guide them to victory!

good luck

Posted by: john buatti | May 11, 2014 02:27 PM

Hi John, Grullo's wish list is fine, it's his ranting and raving, his 'technique' if you wish that are so irritating, plus the chaos he promises, a taste of which we have already witnessed in parliament. Now as you are trying to get personal, for a start I hated Maggie Morthatcher's guts - the snide that she was! And my life has never been and is not mediocre, would you be interested in a list of my achievements and academic qualifications??? I've lived in Italy for over fifty years and would bet that I have a little more experience of life here than yourself. You are aware, I hope, that our name, 'John', is also slang for the outhouse,so do try not to behave like one, there's a good fellow.

Posted by: John Waddington | May 11, 2014 11:50 AM

for John Waddington

You are trying to put down a popular movement by bringing up Mao that for many even today is an inspiration or should we use Margaret Thatcher and what she did to all those mining strikers and reduce the UK to poverty for many year?
You are the one that needs a detailed program before you cast your vote...but yet you keep coming back here for more!
You seem to have a love hate relationship with Grillo or his website or you just come here to get your frustration off your chest for your mediocre life that you live or for what life has served you!

In the UK you will soon have a tax deducted directly from your bank accounts in case you are a much for the English free way of life!
Go there and solve those problems that your democracy delivers if you are from there and complain to them and not here. !
Good luck

Posted by: john buatti | May 11, 2014 09:37 AM

Hi John, Looks like you've become the unofficial spin doctor for the English section. I wonder, were you around at the time, or are you clued up on what the world was like when Mao's Red Guards were on the rampage during the 'cultural revolution'?
Any idea of the hell on earth they created? Any idea of what we went through when the infection spread to the workers over here? I have the impression that Grullo is hell bent on creating something similar... terminal chaos!

Posted by: John Waddington | May 10, 2014 06:52 PM



Italy's top court on Friday confirmed a seven-year sentence against a key political ally of Silvio Berlusconi accused of serving as a mediator between Italy's former prime minister and the Sicilian Mafia.
Read more:

Posted by: john buatti | May 10, 2014 05:12 PM



Former Berlusconi Minister Arrested in Mafia Probe

ROME – Italian police have arrested Claudio Scajola, industry minister in the last government of ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, on suspicion of helping a former party colleague convicted of mafia association to flee justice, authorities said on Thursday.

The case adds one more scandal for Berlusconi's Forza Italia party to deal with following his own conviction for tax evasion. But the political fallout, including any impact on the party's vote in the upcoming European election, remains unclear.

Scajola was forced to resign in 2010 over accusations of a shady real estate deal involving the purchase of a luxury apartment near the Colosseum in Rome but was cleared of wrongdoing by a court earlier this year.

Anti-mafia police in the southern city of Reggio Calabria said Scajola had been arrested over his links with Amedeo Matacena, a Calabrian businessman and former lawmaker from center-right Forza Italia.

No comment was immediately available from Scajola's lawyer.

Posted by: john buatti | May 10, 2014 05:09 PM


Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is "dividing Europe in a dangerous manner", Martin Schulz told EurActiv Germany on Monday (28 April), referring to Berlusconi's attempts to score points in the European elections with anti-German slogans, while Europe's centre-right is distancing itself from his "repulsive" statements. EurActiv Germany reports.

Posted by: john buatti | May 10, 2014 05:05 PM


The media tycoon's original four-year jail term had been reduced to a year of service because of his advanced age.

The charges represent the first time the 77-year-old billionaire media tycoon will be punished for criminal wrongdoing in more than two decades of legal problems. Italy's Supreme Court upheld the charges last year -- Berlusconi's first-ever definitive conviction -- but because of his advanced age, the four-year jail term was reduced to a year of house arrest or community service.

Critics have criticized the court for being unusually lenient on Berlusconi, while his allies said he should have been granted a pardon because of his years of public service.

The conviction stems from the use of accounting tricks to avoid millions in taxes in a series of film content deals between U.S. studios and Berlusconi's Mediaset television and cinema empire. Berlusconi has denied wrongdoing.

Posted by: john buatti | May 10, 2014 05:01 PM


Berlusconi’s EU Election Push Overshadowed by Arrest of Allies

Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s efforts to maintain his influence over Italian politics were set back yesterday by the arrest of three ex-collaborators as he campaigned ahead of European elections.

Anti-mafia police in the southern Italian city of Reggio Calabria detained former Industry Minister Claudio Scajola for allegedly abetting a suspected criminal. In Milan, to the north, prosecutors said they uncovered an alleged bribery ring tied to the city’s global trade fair in 2015 and arrested seven people, including two of Berlusconi’s former lawmakers -- one having served nearly 20 years with him in parliament.

Posted by: john buatti | May 10, 2014 04:52 PM


Berlusconi associate's conviction upheld

An Italian court has upheld the conviction of retired parliamentarian Marcello Dell'Utri for ties to the Sicilian Mafia. Dell'Utri is a close associate of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Dell'Utri was not present when Italy's highest appeals court upheld his seven-year prison sentence on Friday. He had fled to Lebanon last month in order to avoid arrest.

The close Berlusconi associate (pictured center) is currently in police custody at a hospital in Beirut while Italian authorities seek his extradition.

Posted by: john buatti | May 10, 2014 04:45 PM

Most Efficient Health Care: Countries

Bloomberg ranked countries based on the efficiency of their health-care systems.

Each country was ranked on three criteria: life expectancy (weighted 60%), relative per capita cost of health care (30%); and absolute per capita cost of health care (10%). Countries were scored on each criterion and the scores were weighted and summed to obtain their efficiency scores. Relative cost is health cost per capita as a percentage of GDP per capita. Absolute cost is total health expenditure, which covers preventive and curative health services, family planning, nutrition activities and emergency aid. Included were countries with populations of at least five million, GDP per capita of at least $5,000 and life expectancy of at least 70 years.

Rank Country
1 Hong Kong t
2 Singapore t
3 Japan t
4 Israel t
5 Spain t
6 Italy t
7 Australia t
8 South Korea t
9 Switzerland t
10 Sweden t
11 Libya t
12 United Arab E… t
13 Chile t
14 United Kingdom t
15 Mexico t
16 Austria t
17 Canada t
18 Malaysia t
19 France t
20 Ecuador t
21 Poland t
22 Thailand t
23 Finland t
24 Czech Republic t
25 Netherlands t
26 Venezuela t
27 Portugal t
28 Cuba t
29 Saudi Arabia t
30 Germany t
30 Greece t
32 Argentina t
33 Romania t
34 Belgium t
35 Peru t
36 Slovakia t
37 China t
38 Denmark t
38 Hungary t
40 Algeria t
41 Bulgaria t
42 Colombia t
43 Dominican Rep… t
44 Turkey t
45 Iran t
46 United States t
47 Serbia t
48 Brazil t

Posted by: john buatti | May 10, 2014 01:17 PM

Country Percentage-point change, 2013 to 2015


Bloomberg ranked countries based on the forecast magnitude of austerity measures over the next two years.

Using the IMF's October 2013 update of its World Economic Outlook Database, austerity is measured by the percentage-point change in the general government's structural balance -- the portion of a country's budget that governments can control through tax increases and/or spending cuts (economic cycles may change the balance further) -- as a percentage of GDP. General government refers to all levels of government combined: central, state/provincial/regional and local. A negative number in the structural balance indicates a budget deficit; a positive number indicates a surplus. Changes from 2011 to 2013 were included for comparison. All countries for which data were available are included.


1 Japan _________________3.58
2 Ireland ________________2.97
3 Venezuela ______________2.35
4 Australia ______________2.32
5 Israel _________________2.11
5 Portugal _______________2.11
7 Dominican Rep… _________1.97
8 Cyprus _________________1.80
8 Jordan _________________1.80
10 Belgium ________________1.56
11 Spain __________________1.46
12 United States __________1.21
13 Poland _________________1.18
14 Mauritius ______________1.07
15 New Zealand ____________1.03
16 Slovakia _______________0.95
17 France _________________0.91
18 Guyana _________________0.86
19 Bosnia and He… _________0.85
20 Argentina ______________0.84
21 Sweden _________________0.83
22 Canada _________________0.81
23 United Kingdom__________0.79
24 Paraguay _______________0.74
25 Brazil _________________0.66
25 Iceland ________________0.66
27 China __________________0.65
28 Turkey _________________0.58
29 Latvia _________________0.55
30 Finland ________________0.52
30 Hong Kong ______________0.52
32 Peru ___________________0.50
32 Taiwan _________________0.50
34 Colombia _______________0.48
35 Chile __________________0.47
36 South Africa ___________0.45
37 Malaysia _______________0.40
38 Switzerland ____________0.39
39 Georgia ________________0.38
40 Mexico _________________0.37
41 Greece _________________0.34
42 Ecuador ________________0.33
42 Panama _________________0.33
44 Croatia ________________0.29
45 Bulgaria _______________0.28
46 Austria ________________0.21
46 Egypt __________________0.21
48 Italy __________________0.20
49 Germany ________________0.18
50 Korea __________________0.16
51 India __________________0.12
52 Philippines ____________0.08
53 Serbia _________________0.07
54 Romania ________________0.06
55 Denmark ________________0.01
55 Malta __________________0.01
57 Czech Republic ________-0.07
57 Lithuania _____________-0.07
57 Norway ________________-0.07
60 Indonesia _____________-0.08
60 Ukraine________________-0.08
62 Russia ________________-0.09
63 Lebanon _______________-0.11
64 Kazakhstan ____________-0.41
65 Slovenia ______________-0.70
66 Hungary _______________-0.72
67 Singapore _____________-0.75
68 Luxembourg ____________-0.94
69 Thailand ______________-1.32
70 Netherlands ___________-1.95

Posted by: john buatti | May 10, 2014 12:39 PM

Most Government Debt per Person: Countries


Debt per person was calculated by multiplying GDP in U.S. dollars by debt as a percentage of GDP, then dividing by the population. Estimated 2014 data were used for all calculations. Figures for Angola, Hong Kong, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia and Singapore are for the central government only. For all other countries, general government debt is for the central government, the state government and/or the local government. Countries without information on the source of government debt were excluded.

Rank Country Debt per person

1 Japan $99,725
2 Ireland 60,356
3 United States 58,604
4 Singapore 56,980
5 Belgium 47,749
6 Italy ....... 46,757
7 Canada 45,454
8 France 42,397
9 United Kingdom 38,938
10 Switzerland 38,639
11 Austria 38,621
12 Greece 38,444
13 Netherlands 37,233
14 Germany 35,881
15 Norway 34,910
16 Spain 30,031
17 Finland 29,930
18 Denmark 28,778
19 Portugal 26,770
20 Sweden t 25,155
21 Israel t 24,947
22 Australia 18,110
23 New Zealand 15,011
24 Hong Kong 13,261
25 Hungary 11,099
26 Slovakia 10,894
27 Czech Republic 9,413
28 Taiwan 8,968
29 South Korea 8,883
30 Brazil 7,431
31 Venezuela 7,033
32 Malaysia 6,106
33 Argentina 5,444
34 Mexico 5,357
35 Turkey 3,840
36 Romania 3,410
37 South Africa 3,170
38 Thailand 2,977
39 Egypt 2,949
40 Colombia 2,576
41 Kuwait 2,380
42 Russia 2,297
43 Chile 2,244
44 Angola 2,184
45 Morocco 2,125
46 Kazakhstan 1,947
47 Ukraine 1,931
48 China 1,489
49 Peru 1,202
50 Philippines 1,145
51 Vietnam 1,042
52 Iraq 993
53 India 946
54 Indonesia 919
55 Pakistan 822
56 Saudi Arabia 687
57 Iran 544
58 Nigeria 372

Posted by: john buatti | May 10, 2014 12:09 PM

Best for Doing Business: Countries

2014 Rank
1 Hong Kong
2 Canada
3 United States
4 Singapore
5 Australia
5 Germany
7 United Kingdom
8 Netherlands
9 Spain
10 Sweden

Posted by: john buatti | May 10, 2014 11:16 AM


Italy’s new government led by Matteo Renzi has raised concern in the European Commission by requesting an extra year to reach agreed budget targets, citing “exceptional circumstances” and the need to raise debt levels.

Pier Carlo Padoan, finance minister, sent a written request to the commission on Wednesday as part of its 2014 economic and financial document requiring approval from Brussels, which formally replied that it would deliver its assessment on June 2.

EU officials on Thursday privately conveyed their concerns to Rome. “Brussels is very upset,” commented one senior Italian official who asked not to be named.

Officials in Brussels said the commission was expected to push back Rome’s demand for greater fiscal flexibility. “The Commission will be firm,” said a senior EU official. “Other member states, Germany on top of the list, will make it clear that we can’t allow any delays.

“Italy like other member states has to remain on course with its effort to implement structural reforms and meet its budgetary goals.”

Citing the “severe recession” that set Italy back in 2012 and 2013, Mr Padoan wrote that Italy wanted to “deviate temporarily from the budget targets” and that because of “exceptional circumstances” the government had decided to accelerate the payment of arrears owed by the public to the private sector by €13bn, which would increase the debt to GDP ratio in 2014.

Italy is now aiming for a balanced structural budget in 2016 rather than the 2015 target agreed with Mario Monti’s technocrat government in 2012. A year earlier, then prime minister Silvio Berlusconi had promised a balanced structural budget by 2013[...]


Brussels officials said that they were not surprised by the move. “Whenever a new prime minister arrives they always want to change everything but after a while in their job they realise that they need to stick to what has already been agreed,” an official commented.

Posted by: john buatti | May 10, 2014 10:33 AM


This is Renzi putting down Italy on

....Italy will never be a normal country. Because Italy is Italy. If we were a normal country, we wouldn’t have Rome. We wouldn’t have Florence. We wouldn’t have the marvel that is Venice. There is in the DNA of the Italians a bit of madness, which in the overwhelming majority of cases is positive. It is genius. It is talent. It’s the masterpieces of art. It’s the food, fashion, everything that makes Italy great in the world.

But then, we’re not a normal country because we have a complicated bureaucracy, a political system that’s appalling. We have twice as many parliamentarians as the United States. We pay some presidents of [administrative] regions more than the United States pays its president. We would like to make Italy a normal country from the point of view of the political system....

Posted by: john buatti | May 10, 2014 08:55 AM


Renzi the Italian PM that gave the "establishment" a new lease of the convicted tax cheat Berlusconi with which he decided an unconstitutional agreement on the Electoral reform in his party's rooms instead of the Parliament blames the "establishment" as an escape-goat for the reality that he faces and the incapacity to reform Italy for all of those slogans he says every day!

Posted by: john buatti | May 10, 2014 08:53 AM

Renzi keeps asking for flexibility from the EU because he needs to buy time to pay for all the unfunded promises that he made to the italian people and the EU in order to keep his job.
He has no mandate given that he has never been elected by the people in a real election !

Posted by: john buatti | May 10, 2014 08:01 AM


A European Union of Zombies

Published on 8 May 2014

There is no doubt that what awaits the EU and the member states after the European elections in the end of May this year will be a huge test for the Union's system of values. In the best case scenario, what awaits the Union will neither be more nor less Europe but rather more sobering and pragmatism. In the worst case scenario, however, we are to witness a European apocalypse. The reason for this are the growingly convincing polls that suggest that the so called eurosceptic parties will have sufficient majority in the new European Parliament to be able to put an end to the current ideology of creating more Europe. May be, it is not an accident that the EPP candidate for the European Commission presidency, Jean-Claude Juncker, said during the first debate last week that he was striving for a serious Europe not a dreaming Europe.[...]
.... The fourth group are the left eurosceptics like the Coalition of Radical Left (Syriza) In Greece, Die Linke in Germany and the Socialist Party in the Netherlands, which are part of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left group in the European Parliament. ECFR views them as eurosceptic in the traditional sense of the word, which means parties that do not share the right-wing eurosceptics' anti-migration agenda, but are deeply critical to the EU in its current view. They want to abolish the euro and that is why they often vote 'nay' on issues like the euro area governance, trade or the single market. Mark Leonard and Jose Ignacio Torreblanca admit that it is possible, from time to time, this group to be joined by the Greens because one of their leaders, the semi-candidate for European Commission chief Jose Bove (semi because there is another Green candidate - Ska Keller) is an anti-globalisation activist. The authors believe that Beppe Grillo's Five Star movement could feel comfortably in this group. [...]

Posted by: john buatti | May 9, 2014 06:23 PM


European elections: Why you should care

Alice Tidey
Friday, 25 Apr 2014

When it comes to sparking political passion and heated debate, the forthcoming elections for the European parliament usually fail to raise little more than a flicker of interest.

Nonetheless, from May 22-25, over 300 million people from 28 different countries are expected to cast their ballot in an election that will see 751 European members of Parliament (MEPs) elected. But according to research from political risk consultancy firm Teneo Intelligence released in February, most Europeans believe this vote is still considered a "second-order" contest to national elections.

This is reflected in historically low turnouts. From 1979 to 2009, voter turnout has dropped, reaching only 43 percent in 2009 and it's expected to go lower in the 2014 election.

But the European Parliament holds an increasingly important role in the lives of ordinary Europeans. Here's a quick look as to why May's elections matter.

Financial power

The European Parliament (EP) makes key decisions, along with the leaders of each 28 members, in a wide array of policy areas, from agriculture, environment, justice and energy to financial regulations and economic governance.

"In economic matters", Antonio Barroso, senior vice president at Teneo Intelligence told CNBC by phone, "the role of the parliament is important."

As well as setting spending and tax, it also has a say in trade agreements and how goods and services are sold throughout the EU's 28 countries. The parliament gave powers to the EU's executive arm, the Commission, to keep a close eye on member states' deficits and budgets, also allowing it to punish member states that fail to deliver on their economic commitments, with fines of up to 0.5 percent of their gross domestic product.

Measures designed to stop Europe from falling into another financial crisis must also pass through parliament. Its most recent vote, on April 15, the parliament approved the creation of a Single Resolution Mechanism, which will decide whether to wind down or rescue any on the banks.

Additionally, as Mujtaba Rahman, head of European research at Eurasia group, told CNBC "on things like trade, the European Parliament can be fairly influential."

Therefore, if negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a free-trade agreement between the European Union and the United States culminate in an agreement, this one will have to be approved by the parliament.

Finally, its reach also extends to "anything that has to do with the internal market" explains Barroso, especially to its harmonization. Recently, it voted to end mobile phone roaming charges for European consumers, potentially robbing telecom operators of an additional source of revenues. Ministers from the bloc's member states are set to vote on the measures in October, after which they will become law.

Along with member countries' heads of states, the parliament must approve the EU budget each year. The budget is used to balance out the economic imbalances of the EU by investing in infrastructure projects in poorer countries. For the 2014 budget, parliament and the bloc's leaders seemed to be at an impasse as governments, hit by austerity measures at home, called for a big cut in spending. In an 11th-hour deal, they compromised on a $181.6 billion budget, about $700 million than the leaders wanted.

Rise of small parties – on the left and right

"The backdrop of the economic crisis will serve as a platform for populist parties", explains Eurasia's Rahman.

While the rise of the far-right has been widely anticipated, other small parties – including from the left – look set to win big at these elections, which could destabilize the balance of power in the parliament.

The proportional system already increases chances for small parties to gain seats. But, with the crisis still making itself felt through high unemployment levels, there is an "extra incentive to punish the ruling parties", says Barroso.

This could mean the entire parliament could shift to either the left or the right. The two mainstream parties, the centre-right Social Democrats and the center-left European People's Party, are still expected to obtain a majority, but they could choose to ally themselves to smaller parties from one end of the political spectrum in order to avoid a coalition with the other party.

Impact on national politics

"The European Parliament's real influence is actually on certain countries and their politics," highlights Rahman.

The growing importance of smaller parties will not only impact the European Parliament but also member states' domestic politics as ruling national parties brace for a beating.

In an echo to the French local elections in March, in which the ruling socialist party was severely weakened, prompting a cabinet reshuffle, several other leading parties across the EU may be forced into changing policy following the ballot.

In the Netherlands, the radical-right Party for Freedom, credited with 18.1 percent of voting intentions, is ahead in the polls ahead of the May elections, with a two-point lead over its closest competitor. This could increase pressure on the ruling Dutch coalition to repatriate powers from Brussels and tighten its room for manoeuvre regarding economic reforms at home, Teneo Intelligence explains.
Ruling coalitions in Greece and Italy could face leadership challenges as euro-sceptic parties Syriza (in Greece) and Five Star Movement (in Italy) are expected to come out either on top, or close second to their respective ruling parties.
Finally, in the U.K., a good performance from the anti-EU UKIP party, could put further pressure on Prime Minister, David Cameron, to toughen his stance on immigration and European issues.

Euro elections could be 'earthquake' for French socialists: Pro
Douglas Webber, professor of political science at INSEAD, says the European elections in May could be a "major earthquake" for the French socialist party as they could lose out to far-right candidates.

Posted by: john buatti | May 9, 2014 06:10 PM

BBC News
6 May 2014

European elections: Living out of bins in France

By Patrick Jackson , Perpignan

Two bright young Europeans unlikely to be turning out for the elections on 25 May are Hugo and George, who scrape for work and eat out of bins in southern France.

Articulate, dignified and engaging - maybe men of the roads were always like this?

When I see them on an empty avenue in Perpignan on a Saturday afternoon, they are fishing food out of a wheelie bin.

A meagre catch: one bag of corn snacks and a six-pack of yogurts.

Rather than accept my invitation to go to a cafe for a chat, they choose the public benches on the avenue.

It is sunny after all, though windy. The previous night, the wind and the ground were so cold, Hugo could not get to sleep in the tent he and George share with two other twenty-something jobseekers from Spain at a forest campsite in Ceret, 30km (19 miles) from Perpignan.

An Italian by citizenship, George, 23, was born in Serbia and arrived with his parents by bus in Italy as a child, settling in the northern town of Suzzara.
The trained barber went to Spain three years ago on a budget flight from London, where he had saved 1,000 euros (£822; $1,390) for the trip.

The last time he got any work was in 2013.

On a street two years ago in Tarragona, George met Hugo, 26 and from Valencia, who had graduated and worked as a social worker with children before government funds dried up and he lost his job. He had also trained as a lifeguard, and remains fit and lithe.

The two friends discovered they share the same birthday, 18 August.
Oranges and cherries

There are a lot of Italians, Spaniards and Portuguese at the same campsite, mostly men, says Hugo.

He was picking oranges in Spain this winter but the work ended at the beginning of March.

So he and the others piled into an old van and headed north for the cherry season in the countryside near Perpignan. No offers yet.

They have a kitty of 30 euros - emergency petrol money to drive back to Spain if they find no work.

How will they get back to the campsite from Perpignan tonight? Not a problem. If they get stranded, George says, they may spend the night in the first empty house they see.

Their shorts may be grimy, but they keep themselves clean. There are rivers for that, George says, unrolling the bundle of toiletries he keeps in his rucksack so I can see his toothbrush, small tube of toothpaste, deodorant roll and nail clippers.

Do they beg? Not their style, says George, stonily. But they do busk with a guitar and they can juggle. They put on quite a show for me, all the circus poses just right, beaming like two happy little boys.

Would they not be better off trying their luck in Germany or Netherlands? You cannot live on the street in those countries, says George, nor do they have the languages.

George has been to Brussels, by the way. How come? He was in the European Parliament. No really, he was.

For Grillo

It was only for a day as part of a school trip, but he came away with a lasting impression: "Clean, a lot of money, a lot of jobs, but a lot of people sleeping on the streets in Brussels."
If George was back in Italy (it is a year since he has seen his family) he would vote, absolutely. For Beppe Grillo and the Five Star Movement, the new party which rocked the established parties at last year's national elections.
Why? "Because I want to kick all the old politicians into the street. I remember when there was work in Italy and now I see the crisis."

"Politicians get their salaries and for them, the crisis doesn't exist," he adds.

Hugo would vote for nobody. "All politicians in Spain are only interested in people with money - not the people of the streets," he says.

He has a great smile, straight out of a Velasquez painting. He talks the less, and looks the stronger and healthier of the two friends, despite his lack of sleep.

For all his eagerness and gallant character, George, close up, looks quite worn, if not ill.

His weight is normal for his build and age, but the only normal food he and Hugo have had all day is a biscuit and a cup of coffee provided by a charity in Ceret.
'Free people'

How do you see yourselves five years from now? George wants to have his parents nearby, children, a house, a garden and lots of animals, especially chickens, all in some sunny country.

"It all depends on whether I have money," Hugo says for his part. "For now I'm seeing the world."

As we part, I cannot help but ask Hugo about the amazing leg warmers he wears. They are the sleeves from a sweater.

Not to be outdone, George wants to show off the odd socks he wears in his boots, which are starting to fall apart at the soles.

"Different socks for free people," he says, writing it down on a page for good measure.

Then they are off running up the Avenue du Marechal Joffre, peeling away from the houses with flowery gardens and the council flats on the right, away from the streets on the left where a Catholic soup kitchen feeds the unemployed and destitute.

Posted by: john buatti | May 9, 2014 05:52 PM


Finantial Times

Italian PM Renzi dealt embarrassing defeat by Eni shareholders

May 8, 2014
By Guy Dinmore in Rome

Matteo Renzi, Italy’s new reformist prime minister, has been dealt an embarrassing setback by foreign investors who voted in unprecedented fashion against a government motion to impose an ethics clause on oil and gas group Eni.

Italy’s government holds a 30 per cent stake in Eni and needed the support of institutional investors on Thursday to reach a two-thirds majority of those present at a shareholders meeting to adopt a new bylaw requiring directors indicted – but not convicted – of financial crimes to step down.

But in what company insiders said was the first time that the Italian government had suffered such a defeat, about 80 per cent of mostly non-Italian institutional shareholders present voted against the motion. Applause broke out in the hall when the result was announced.

The defeat was seen as an embarrassment for Mr Renzi in the midst of a campaign for the European parliamentary elections, with his centre-left Democratic party battling a resurgent anti-establishment Five Star Movement that casts a relentless spotlight on corruption among Italy’s political and business elite.

Outgoing Eni chief executive Paolo Scaroni was critical of the government motion and was quoted by Reuters on the sidelines of the shareholders meeting as saying that no other company in the world had such a clause.

Mr Scaroni has led Eni since 2005 but will step down on Friday after Mr Renzi’s government decided not to nominate him for another three-year term. __Mr Scaroni is under investigation on suspicion of involvement in a bribery scandal______ related to contracts in Algeria, but has not been charged and denies the accusations.

Finmeccanica, the state-controlled defence and industrial group, is to vote on a similar ethics clause at a shareholders meeting on Friday, followed by utility Enel later this month.

Posted by: john buatti | May 9, 2014 05:29 PM

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