6 February 2018 - Italy news for this week

The electoral rolls have  been handed in to the Ministry of the Interior: 42 parties at the starting gates

This week the official symbols we will see on the electoral ballot sheet at the next elections scheduled for 4 March were filed in Rome. Forty-two lists have been presented, 35 in Italy and 7 abroad. Compared to the 84 symbols that had been admitted after the first assessment by the Ministry of the Interior, there's been a 50% reduction. The reason: the requirement, for new lists (meaning those without political representation in the current parliament), to collect the by now infamous 24,000 signatures. However, there's time up until 8 February for the ministry to publish the names of the candidates in each electoral college, but we already know that the electoral ballot will not be the same nationwide, as some parties will stand in all colleges (or constituencies), and some parties in just a few. As far as the coalitions are concerned, the centre-right is made up of Forza Italia, Northern League, Fratelli d'Italia and Noi con l'Italia – all backing the same electoral programme. The situation for DP, +Europa, Civica Popolare and Insieme is different because they have chosen to each present their own intentions in order to develop a more constructive and stimulating discussion. Outside the coalitions, we have Casa Pound, that is adamant about leaving the euro; Italy for Italians (a group comprised of Forza Nuova and Fiamma Tricolore), headed by Roberto Fiore which hails national resistance against the immigrant invasion; Destre Unite and Blocco Nazionale per la Libertà. On the other end of the spectrum, in addition to Liberi and Uguali, the DP splinter faction, there's confirmation of a list headed by former magistrate Antonio Ingroia, who for these elections is running with a political party entitled People's list for the Constitution. Among the lists that are only running abroad, and which are not required to provide any indications regarding a programme or political leadership: Maie – Associated Movement of Italian's abroad (which, unlike other lists, has presented a programme); Unital (Latin American Union of the Italian Flag), W Physics; Freedom Movement, Union of South American Italian emigres; Northern League, Forza Italia and Fratelli d'Italia (running under one symbol abroad).


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The fight against evasion breaks new records

This week Ernesto Maria Ruffini, the managing director of the Italian Tax and Excise Office, presented the results for the last year by announcing a 5.8% increase compared to 2016 in terms of recovered tax evasion. The result has funnelled a total of 20.1 billion euro back in the state coffers. The simplified settlement of tax bills, commonly referred to as 'scrapping', in 2017 provided revenue amounting to 6.5 billion euro, a sum that has increased the annual figure for the Tax and Excise collection department to 12.7 billion. According to Pier Carlo Padoan, the Minister for the Economy, the increased tax revenue is a structural phenomenon, and it is essential to continue with the planned reforms. The results confirm the economic recovery, and mean that the outlook for the future is improving. The Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni agrees with Padoan: "The utmost has been achieved, one can say that more could have been done, but the conditions of the economic cycle require that we do better, especially on behalf of the young, women and the South, where jobs and investments are harder to come by", were the prime minister final words, who thus underlined the need to do more to reduce tax pressure starting with labour taxation. However, this growth, which many analysts view as exceptional, make the recipes of many of the parties in this electoral campaign, which are assigning miraculous revenues to be had from the fight against tax evasion,  as somewhat unlikely: doing better than we are doing will not be easy…

Amazon patents an electronic bracelet

This week, the e-commerce giant launched by Jeff Bezos has patented a system to speed up the search for products stored in warehouses by its staff: it's a wireless bracelet, which monitors very accurately where one's putting hands and uses vibration to guide personnel in the right direction, effectively monitoring their every move. The system is based on three factors: 1) the bracelet, worn by the employee; 2) the ultrasound transducers, located in the surrounding environment which communicate with the bracelet; 3) the management model, which enables movement tracking. The next step, the patent suggests, is the total automation of all processes, which as things stand, would in any case transform employees into controlled machines. Amazon has clarified that this is an experimental initiative and that no application of this technology is so far foreseen, but the privacy guarantors worldwide are already on the warpath. It has to be said, using electronic stimuli to guide a person's movements does seem to be going a little too far…

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