Rome

Lawyer Silvia Enrico replaces discredited Oscar Giannino

Scandal prompts leader swap for Stop the Decline party in Italy

Lawyer Silvia Enrico replaces discredited Oscar Giannino

Rome, February 20 - Lawyer Silvia Enrico is taking over the helm of Italy's small free-market-oriented Stop the Decline party, its 18-member national directorate announced on Wednesday. The directorate met to discuss what to do over its gadfly leader Oscar Giannino's false claim he got a master's degree from the prestigious University of Chicago. Giannino, who admitted guilt, quit on Wednesday. "Irrevocable resignation," tweeted Giannino in a move pundits say could boost ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's bid for re-election. "It is a clean-cut rule: he who errs pays. It should hold in politics and with public money," continued Giannino, who called his own error "private". "Now down to pound left, right and centre," he tweeted. "Giannino did not want to listen to reason, he was adamant," the party directorate explained. The scandal broke less than a week before Italians were due to go to the polls for general elections. Party figure Luigi Zingales, a professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, denounced Giannino's false claim to hold a master's from the same institution and resigned from the party in protest. Stop the Decline has been campaigning largely on a meritocracy and transparency platform. On Tuesday Giannino admitted that he had never pursued a master's at the University of Chicago but only an English language course "in 1994-1995, over the summer".

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