Renewal of Italian Mission in Iraq:
No Discussion Allowed
On February 9, 2006 the Italian government called for a confidence vote in Parliament on a bill dubbed the milleproroghe (1000 extensions), which included extending the Italian mission in Iraq through June 30, 2006. The confidence vote is used to assure quick passage of legislation and allows for no discussion of the bill. There is some risk involved; if the vote of confidence is not obtained, the government is forced to resign. However, in this case Berlusconi's ruling coalition enjoys a wide majority and the bill was approved 296-158.
The bill, which had already passed in the Senate and with yesterday's vote is now law, included everything from security measures at soccer stadiums to deadlines for converting from analog to digital TV, from requiring the inclusion of country of origin on labels of food products from outside the European Union to an extension to apply for citizenship for emigrants from Italian territories once part of Austria-Hungary.
This will be the last act of parliament, which will close ahead of the general elections set for April 9. In fact, the government is currently operating on an extension, as parliament was due to be dissolved on January 31. Some claim Berlusconi requested the extension in an attempt to accomplish in 10 days what his government was not able to do in 5 years. While others believe the real motive is to delay the period of "equal time" in the media during the official election campaign.
Romacittapertallapace, a coalition of Rome peace groups, organized a protest yesterday to call attention to the vote as well as the upcoming demonstration in Rome on March 18 2006, International Day of Protest and the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Literally hundreds of flyers were handed out, even to some members of the ruling majority as they happened by. Members of U.S. Citizens for Peace & Justice were there with signs that read "Italy: Don't Support Bush's War."
Article 11 of the Italian Constitution states "Italy shall repudiate war as an instrument of offence against the liberty of other peoples and as a means for settling international disputes." According to the government, the 2600 Italian troops in Iraq have nothing to do with the war or invasion; they are there on a strictly humanitarian mission.
Someone should inform Bush, who refers to Italy as the number two partner in the coalition after the U.K.