Cordelia Jenkins: The political upheaval of a new government in Italy — led by a partnership of leftwing and rightwing populists, one strong in the south, the other in the north — has given Brussels the jitters. The question on everyone’s lips is whether the new government will trigger an economic crisis and, if so, what might follow?
This mess is the fault of both Italy and the EU, writes Martin Wolf in his column. Italians are detached from the EU and contemptuous of its establishment. They also feel they have been abandoned to cope with their migration crisis by themselves. Then there are economic concerns. Since the financial crisis, real GDP growth per head in Italy has been more sluggish than even in Greece. The result has been a spiral of populism, with unhappy voters leading to irresponsible promises from politicians, leading to bad outcomes.
Things could get worse, warns Martin. The new government could continue with its dangerous policies, triggering a run on Italian debt and banks. From there, it doesn't take too many leaps of imagination to see the country effectively crashing out of the eurozone. That would be a monstrous crisis for Italy and the damage could take years to resolve.
Rights to life
Ireland’s abortion referendum on Friday is the result of a national argument that has been rumbling since the mid-19th century when abortion was first made illegal, explains historian Clair Wills. But it wasn’t until the early 1980s that an alliance of conservative and right-wing groups introduced the eighth amendment to the constitution, making the right to life of the unborn child equal to the life of its mother. The result has been a series of horrific and preventable deaths of Irish women, many of whom are now fighting to have the amendment repealed.
Critics of multibillion dollar mergers often fret about the impact the resulting monopolies will have on consumers, driving up prices in a market without competition. But what about the impact on workers? asks Sarah O’Connor. In real life, a “monopsony” — when a few employers in an area can dictate salaries and working hours — can be just as scary. Consumers need options or they will be ripped off. The same goes for workers.
The Notorious R.B.G.
Courtney Weaver has been watching a new documentary about the life of the US Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who in her 85th year has cemented her reputation as a force to be reckoned with. After she called Donald Trump “a faker” — and then had to apologise — her fans bought souvenirs emblazoned with her crowned head and nicknamed her after the Brooklyn rapper, B.I.G. There is even a book that details her workout routine: apparently she favours planks and push-ups.