Centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi, whose defeat in the April elections was partly due to ballots cast outside Italy, voiced doubts on Monday about whether Italians living outside Italy should have voting rights. ‘They don’t pay taxes. It’s rather debatable whether they should vote,’ Berlusconi said in an interview with Milanese TV station Telenova.
‘According to this argument,’ retorted Mirko Tremaglia of the National Alliance, ‘the million tax evaders in Italy also shouldn’t vote, nor should the millions of people who have no income.’ In response to the ex-premier’s statements, Tremaglia pointed out that Italians dotted around the world guarantee their mother country indirect earnings of 100 billion euro. Interestingly, the crucial amendment to the Italian constitution that gave the vote to Italians resident abroad was approved in 2000 with the support of both political blocs. Laws implementing the change were approved a year later under the Berlusconi government. New Premier Romano Prodi has not included a minister for Italians abroad in his cabinet, a move that has disappointed some senators in his coalition.