The removal from Giglio on July 23rd of the refloated, if rusty, hulk was thus more than a triumph of salvaging skill and technology: it eased a huge symbolic weight from the national psyche. And it coincided with what Matteo Renzi, the newish prime minister, called “the start of a process of profound change”. On the same day, Italy’s upper house began voting on amendments to a bill to reduce the senate from 315 members (excluding senators for life) to 100 and fill it with lawmakers from municipal and regional government or presidential appointees rather than elected representatives. The reform will remove a big obstacle to effective government in Italy: the “coequal” powers of its upper and lower houses, which result in legislation frequently bouncing between chambers (and often getting lost in the process). The proposed new senate will have drastically reduced legislative powers.

symbolic weight:象徴的な重み
national psyche:国民精神
bouncing  between:の中で試す
getting lost in the process:その手続きの中で混迷して

For some critics, particularly in the populist Five Star Movement, this is a lurch towards authoritarian government. Others complain the reform enhances the influence on national politics of Italy’s often corrupt regional governments. Recent days have seen claims that the deputy governor of Lombardy gave a consultancy contract worth £16,000 ($21,000) a year to his chauffeur and the arrest of a former governor of neighbouring Veneto, accused of taking millions for licences to build the barriers that will protect Venice from flooding.

Five Star Movement:大衆の不満に率直な賛同を示す人民主義政党(ポピュリズム)として行動し、近年の欧州経済危機とそれに伴うマリオ・モンティ政権の経済改革により、雇用不安や増税を背負わされた国民の中流層・下流層から急速に支持を集めている。党名の由来であり、シンボルでもある五つの星は社会が守り抜くべき概念(発展・水資源・持続可能性のある交通・環境主義・インターネット社会)を指している。
chauffeur :運転手
Veneto:ベネト イタリアの州

Some also argue that Mr Renzi should have secured a broader consensus before submitting his bill to parliament. Around 7,850 amendments have been tabled in the senate alone. Maria Elena Boschi, the minister sponsoring the bill, claimed the amendments would “make us work an extra week and lose a bit of holiday”. But the reform has much further to go than the Costa Concordia (which is being towed 200 nautical miles to a breaker’s yard near Genoa). Ansa, a news agency, calculated that vetting the senate amendments could take three months. Then the bill must go to the chamber, and again to both houses. Another objection, surprisingly rarely heard in Italy, is that its legislators’ time might be better spent on its still-moribund economy: last week, the Bank of Italy forecast GDP growth of just 0.2% for this year.

breaker’s yard:wreck yard 解体工場
still-moribund economy:未だに瀕死の経済

The proposed reform is the fruit of a pact in January between Mr Renzi and Mr Berlusconi, who still leads the second-biggest party in the senate. The bill’s prospects of approval were greatly enhanced when, on June 18th, a court in Milan upheld the media tycoon’s appeal against his convictions for allegedly paying for underage sex with Ms El-Mahroug and misusing his authority to try to conceal their relationship. Seen through the eyes of Mr Berlusconi and his supporters, who regard the judges as puppets of the left, the successful appeal showed Mr Renzi was honouring his side of a bargain implicit in the January deal.

fruit of a pact:約束の産物

Mr Berlusconi had been sentenced to a year in prison on the vice charge, and six for abusing his position. That he was acquitted of the first charge was unsurprising: even some of his critics thought the evidence was inconclusive. But although many felt his sentence on the other charge was excessive, few expected an acquittal. It is widely accepted that the then prime minister telephoned police in Milan to get Ms El-Mahroug released after she was detained, suspected of theft. The former prime minister’s lawyer said the verdict went beyond his “rosiest expectations”. Mr Berlusconi was “deeply moved” and even praised the “vast majority of judges”.

vice charge:性的不道徳の罪
deeply moved:いたく感激する

The court has yet to give its reasons, but the way it framed its ruling suggested it had no option but to clear Mr Berlusconi of the misuse of authority charge. In 2012, barely noticed by the public and scarcely reported in the media, Mario Monti’s government, which succeeded Mr Berlusconi’s, abolished the offence for which the former prime minister had been indicted. In its place, two new ones were created, together with a gap between them into which, Mr Berlusconi’s lawyers argued, his conduct fell. As some commentators now recall, Mr Monti’s government relied for survival on the support of Mr Berlusconi’s followers.


The 77-year-old Mr Berlusconi cannot run for public office again because of another conviction for tax fraud, which also led to his being stripped of his knighthood. And the prosecutors in the ‘Ruby’ case are likely to seek a final ruling from the supreme court, which could yet decide that the former prime minister is guilty of one or other offence. But the decision of the Milan court has nevertheless given Mr Berlusconi renewed influence over the fortunes of Italy. As Il Messaggero, a Rome daily, put it, l’ex Cavaliere rimonta a cavallo, the ex-knight is back on his horse.



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