Giovedì, 18 Ottobre 2018

Alfano passes no-confidence test, govt crisis averted


(By Paul Virgo)
Rome, July 19 - The Senate on Friday rejected a
no-confidence motion in Deputy Premier and Interior Minister
Angelino Alfano over the deportation of the family of a Kazakh
Premier Enrico Letta's left-right fragile government would
have been in peril if Alfano had failed to pass the confidence
Fifty-five Senators voted in favour of the motion against
Alfano, the secretary of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's
centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party, while 226 voted
against and 13 abstained.
Before the vote, Letta called on Senators to reject the
motion, saying it was "clear" Alfano had nothing to do with the
expulsion following the results of an internal investigation.
He argued that rejecting the motion was a vote of
confidence in his executive, which is based on an unprecedented
alliance between his centre-left Democratic Party, the biggest
group in parliament, and their long-standing bitter rivals in
the PdL.
"We want to continue to build answers for this country,"
said Letta, whose cabinet was sworn in in late April after two
months of political deadlock following February's inconclusive
general election.
"This no vote will enable the government to work in the
coming weeks," he added, citing a number of urgent matters on
the cabinet's agenda.
Members of the left-wing SEL party and the
anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, both of which oppose Letta's
government, voted against Alfano.
Several PD Senators rebelled against the party line and did
not take part in the vote, even though they knew the PdL was
likely to pull its support from the government if the
no-confidence motion had gone through.
Their failure to respect internal discipline will be
discussed at what looks set to be a heated PD meeting Wednesday.
"There was a no-confidence motion, it was rejected, I'm
satisfied," said Alfano.
Letta told the Senate that his government was not
underestimating the importance of the case, saying it was a
cause for "embarrassment and disrepute" for Italy.
But he stressed that no one in the higher levels of
government knew about the deportation until after it took place
and stressed that the administration had behaved with "total
Alma Shalabayeva, wife of oligarch dissident Mukhtar
Ablyazov Ablyazov, and their six-year-old daughter were
apprehended in a nighttime raid by Italian police late in May.
They were rushed onto a private jet with Kazakh diplomats
and flown back to a country whose human-rights record has been
questioned by several organisations.
Alfano's chief of staff at the interior ministry resigned
over the scandal earlier this week.
The government has revoked the deportation order and Alfano
has ordered a revamp of the departments involved in the
Letta said the Kazakhstan ambassador to Rome had behaved in
an "unheard-of" way by directly contacting interior ministry
officials to pressure them to conduct the raid, rather than
going through the proper channels at the foreign ministry.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for
Human Rights expressed its concern about the case on Thursday.
"The circumstances of the deportation give rise to the
appearance that this was in fact an extraordinary rendition
which is of great concern to us," it said.
"The Italian authorities have an obligation, under
international law, to provide for an effective remedy to the
victim of the violation, in this case Ms. Shalabayeva and her
"Given the possible serious implications of this case, we
call upon both the Italian and Kazakh authorities to cooperate
and reach a diplomatic agreement to facilitate the rapid return
of the deportees".
Foreign ministry sources said Friday that Shalabayeva and
her daughter were being treated well in their homeland, adding
that the woman "thanks the Italian government for what it is
doing on her behalf and awaits developments on her judicial
During his stints as premier Berlusconi helped foster
lucrative commercial ties between Italy and energy-rich
Friday's outcome may only provide temporary respite for the
The administration is also trying to resolve tensions over
demands from the PdL that it avert a 1% rise of the top band of
value added tax (VAT) scheduled for later this year and scrap an
unpopular property tax called IMU.
The PdL has said these are deal-breaker issues but the
government is struggling to find money needed in the budget,
with cash tight as Italy endures its longest recession in over
20 years and Rome committed to respecting EU
fiscal-consolidation targets.
Furthermore, the PdL may also sink the government later
this month if the supreme Court of Cassation upholds a four-year
jail sentence for Berlusconi for fraud at his media empire that
comes with a five-year ban from public office.

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