The European People's Party (from which Cameron withdrew the UK Conservative party after the last UK election to join some extremely iffy people in another, much further Right grouping in the European parliament) has required the People of Liberty party (Berlusconi) to remove all references to the EPP from its manifestos and election literature. Berlusca is seeking the popular vote (or perhaps that should be the populist vote, as the EPP would have it) by attacking the European project, the Euro, and German economic hegemony in Europe.
Mario Monti is our preferred candidate for the Italian elections they have declared (though Monti is reported to be less than pleased as his entire political campaign is based on policy, not personality or party) and a file has been opened on Berlusconi and his antics, as well as on his allies (the Northern Leagues are resolutely anti-Europa). After a meeting between the secretary of the EPP and some of the People of Liberty Euro-MPs a clarification has been made: the issue is not the Party which is in good standing as a part of the European centre Right, but Berlusconi himself and his off the cuff policy statements and beyond the Pale behaviour.
Italy is a founder-state of the EU and a core member; the EPP is highly influential and becoming more so as reforms to the democratic representational institutions and shifts to correct the democratic deficit are considered within the Project. This is more of a blow to Berlusconi's electoral prospects than might be thought by those of us who regard Europa as something to leave, not something to build. That the European Union is integral to the outcome of the Italian elections is underlined by the Italian Democratic party's under-powered economic spokesman offering up fiscal independence and the acceptance of extensive EU economic oversight in return for, effectively, eurobonds and institutionalised debt-sharing. 39 days to go.
Academic freedom under threat in Hong Kong
6 hours ago