Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Political Discourse on Immigration in Italy

A couple of weeks ago Randy reported on this and how immigration plays a crucial part in reversing the current demographic trends in Italy. I am going to follow his lead and present to you this article from The Economist (walled for non-subscribers) on the political discourse in Italy on the very subject of immigration. The article is not very elaborate but still the former Prime Minister Berlusconi and his friends in the Northern League are well interesting to listen to.

'On August 25th Italy's opposition leader told a meeting of conservative Roman Catholics that he and his centre-right allies believed in an Italy that was “Catholic and for Italians”, whereas the centre-left camp headed by Romano Prodi, the prime minister, wanted a “multi-ethnic” nation.

Since Italy is already multi-ethnic—at least 6.5% of the population is thought to be made up of legal and illegal immigrants—Mr Berlusconi presumably meant multi-religious and multicultural. In any event his remark signalled that race and identity will be a hot topic this autumn. The government plans radical changes to an immigration law introduced by Mr Berlusconi's government in 2002. Before going on holiday, ministers agreed that the time legal immigrants must wait before seeking citizenship should be halved to five years.'

Opportunism and populism will do no good to the attempt of bringing a decent long term solution to the table.

'For Mr Berlusconi and some of his allies—particularly in the xenophobic Northern League—that is not enough. But what made his comment incendiary was the fact that it came amid a spate of well-publicised crimes that left many wondering if length of stay should be the only condition for citizenship.'

A very faint hope I should say ...

Meanwhile Brescia's latest horror—a triple killing, possibly linked to east European organised crime—has prompted a protest by supporters of the far right. It is a situation that calls for care from the government, and responsibility from the opposition.'

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