11-08-11: Italy’s Prime Minister Offers Conditional Resignation

Everywhere Tristan went, people were looking at televisions, phones, or computers. As Tristan walked through the busy streets of Rome, he wondered if this had been a good idea. He’d taken a two-hour flight from Athens to Rome so that he could be here for the revealing of the meeting over the debt crisis, in which it would be revealed whether Prime Minister Berlusconi would stand up to the challenge of the European debt crisis or if he would stand down and let Italy choose a new Prime Minister.

Tristan had been on the phone with Josh in Ontario all morning. It had been difficult getting up early after spending such an amazing night with Adonai, but he’d forced himself to be up for the 8:45 flight so he could arrive in Rome at 10:00.

Weaving through the crowd at the Leonardo da Vinci airport, Tristan reached for his own phone and dialed Josh’s number. He hailed a taxi and asked to be taken to the parliament building as he waited for Josh to answer his phone. The call went to voicemail, though, so Tristan left a message saying that he was in Rome and was on his way to the Parliament.

On the way to the Parliament, Tristan talked with the cab driver about the situation with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. It seemed like the consensus was that people didn’t trust the prime minister, and most of them wanted him to step down.

They arrived at the parliament building and Tristan paid the cab driver before getting out of the cab. Tristan adjusted his laptop bag around his shoulder and headed for the press area in front of the building where all the journalists were gathering. Tristan held up his pass for the security guard and joined the group waiting for the press secretary to come out and give his speech.

“Non è da Italia,” a reporter beside him observed and Tristan shook his head. He knew a bit of Italian but not enough to have a full conversation. His Spanish was better, so he could decipher that the man had observed that he wasn’t from Italy.

“Parli inglese?” Tristan asked.

“A little,” the reporter nodded. “Where you from?”

“Canada,” Tristan answered simply, “but I live in Greece.”

“What prefecture?”

“I live in an apartment in Lasithi,” Tristan smiled. His cell phone rang then and Tristan held it up to see that Josh was returning his call. He excused himself from the reporter and held the phone to his ear, pressing Talk. “Hey!”

“How are things in Italy?”

“Busy,” Tristan replied, keeping his eyes peeled on the front doors of the parliament building. “We’re just waiting for the press secretary to come out and tell us what’s going on.”

“Perfect. Dan is getting on me for information about Berlusconi.”

“You’ll know when I know, Bro.” The doors opened and the press secretary stepped out with two aides at his sides. “Josh, I’ve gotta go. We’re about to find out the scoop here.”
“Keep me posted,” Josh requested and Tristan hung up the phone.

The secretary spoke in Italian but one aide translated in Spanish and the other in English. Tristan activated the recorder app on his iPhone and listened carefully as the translator spoke.

“Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has offered a conditional resignation on Tuesday, agreeing to step down but only after Parliament passes an austerity package demanded by the European Union. Mr. Berlusconi failed to reach a parliamentary majority in the vote today, which has led to conditional resignation. Once he formally steps down, the president will begin talks with various parliamentary leaders to decide whether to go to elections or try to form a new government with the existing political party.”

There were cheers around Tristan and he raised his hand asking, “Is there a timetable for Mr. Berlusconi’s conditional resignation offer?”

“No,” the secretary answered. The additional measures Italy has pledged to the European Union have not been presented to parliament yet, though Mr. Berlusconi has said in the past that they would arrive in the Senate by mid-November.”

“Would Berlusconi be able or desire to present himself as his party’s lead candidate in the future elections?” a reporter beside Tristan asked in Spanish.

“He could, but the outcome is looking more unlikely with Italy’s borrowing costs spiking to record highs. The European Leaders increasingly see him as a liability for Italy.”

More questions were answered, but the reporter beside Tristan turned to him and asked if he at least spoke Spanish. When Tristan nodded, the reporter told him, “Earlier today, the prime minister won a budget vote in Parliament but the tally showed that he no longer had the support of the majority. While the opposition leader called on him to resign, Mr. Berlusconi wrote his options on a piece of paper captured by another news agency photographer.”

“What were the options?” Tristan asked, intrigued.

“‘Resignation’ was one. He also wrote ‘eight traitors’ about the lawmakers who didn’t support him.”

“Wow,” Tristan shook his head in response.

As the press conference ended, Tristan continued to talk to others around him about their reactions to the story. Apparently Mr. Berlusconi’s coalition received 308 votes in favour of passing the budget bill, but 321 lawmakers didn’t vote, showing that Berlusconi no longer had the majority.

Most people Tristan talked to were concerned about the economic future of Italy. One man said that Italy ran the risk of not being able to access the financial markets in the next few days. Someone else informed Tristan that a delegation from the European Commission was due in Rome tomorrow to step up surveillance of Italy’s reform program. There were fears that debt-wrecked Greece would pass on the disease of their own financial crisis onto Italy.

Tristan found lunch at a Hard Rock Cafe and then took a taxi back to the airport. There was no point staying for more than a day; he had enough information to write up an article and send it back to Josh. The plane wasn’t due to leave until 1400 hours, so Tristan spent the next couple of hours working on his laptop. He sent a text to Josh saying that he was writing up the story and then would send it to him before he got on the plane.

With the article finished and his laptop bag around his shoulder, Tristan boarded the plane and watched the view as he traveled back to Greece. This was the life – he got to fly to exotic cities, talk to people from all over the world, and share the truth about what was really happening from the locations being affected by those stories. Plus, as if all that wasn’t enough, he had the beautiful Adonai waiting at home for him. Life couldn’t get any better.

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