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Milan Expo exposes rifts in Italy

Friday, May 01, 2015 - 01:44

Milan's Expo opens its doors - but what's hailed by some as a model of Italy's economic recovery is denounced in fury by others, while putting Matteo Renzi's reform efforts under the spotlight. David Pollard reports.

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A shining testament to Italy's economic recovery - though not for everyone. The long-awaited Milan Expo opens its doors. A six-month exhibition of technology and know-how with a focus on sustainable food development. Some 20 million people are expected to visit over the next six months. But here: those who see the millions spent on it as wasteful and riddled with corruption. And others who complain its green-tinged message hides a big business agenda. (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) STUDENT DEMONSTRATOR, ELISA MANNI, SAYING: "We are here, many of us, very colourfully, to say we are against Expo." Economists see progress on reform in Italy. Others see a deepening divide. Unemployment is still high and rising, according to the latest numbers - with nearly 43 per cent of 15 to 24 year olds out of work. That's bad news for Matteo Renzi's government, which approved labour market reforms this year. But he appears to be winning a battle on electoral reform. A vote was carried on Thursday - with a massive majority - though with most opposition lawmakers abstaining. Key is a measure to award a heavy majority to a winning party to ensure a clear victor emerges in elections. Renzi says it's needed for stability - his opponents say it undermines democracy. It's a high-stakes argument in an Italian parliament known for its blood-letting, says Dominic Johnson of Somerset Capital SOUNDBITE (English) DOMINIC JOHNSON, CEO, SOMERSET CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, SAYING: ''It's like the Game of Thrones ... You always have the good guy and then suddenly the good guy gets his head lopped off by a huge great knight with an enormous broadsword .... I think he's a very, very important centrist politician in Europe. He's an extremely thoughtful economist and the reforms he's bringing in to Italy are absolutely essential.'' The game isn't over yet. A final secret ballot on the bill is due on Monday - that's seen as a much bigger test for Renzi.

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Milan Expo exposes rifts in Italy

Friday, May 01, 2015 - 01:44