Italian cabinet agrees to abolish party funding

Letta makes announcement via @Enricoletta Twitter account

Italian cabinet agrees to abolish party funding

(updates previous) Rome, May 24 - Premier Enrico Letta said his left-right government agreed to scrap public funding of Italian political parties at Friday's cabinet meeting. "In the cabinet we reached an agreement to abolish public funding of the parties," Letta said via his Twitter account @EnricoLetta. Guidelines to the reform include "the definition of strict procedures regarding transparency statutes and budgets of the parties" and "implementing tax breaks for people who donate to parties," according to a statement. Letta, who last month became premier of an unprecedented left-right coalition after two months of post-election gridlock, vowed to "revolutionize" party funding days into his term. Just prior to his election, a group of so-called "wise men" called on by the president to hash out reforms and policies that all parties could agree on, advised against cutting party funding in order "to prevent private wealth from improperly influencing politics". But Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, which won about a quarter of the vote in February elections and refuses to accept public financing of any kind, pressed the center-left Democratic Party (PD) of Letta and the center-right People of Freedom (PdL) party of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi to adopt the stance. Foreshadowing the government agreement Friday, Letta told the powerful Confindustria employers' confederation at their annual meeting Thursday that party funding would indeed me scrapped. Following that, he said, would be a reduction in the number of MPs.

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