Lost - a leader and his cause: Achille Occhetto took the Italian left from Communism to defeat. Donald Sassoon laments

WHEN Achille Occhetto, Italy's last Communist leader, resigned on Monday from the leadership of his remodelled Democratic Party of the Left (PDS), he more or less completed the skin-shedding of the Italian Left.

Berlusconi heals breach with president

LEADERS of Italy's new right-wing government coalition are seeking to thaw out relations with President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, after an icy start earlier this week.

Rebuff to Berlusconi delays cabinet list

ROME (Reuter) - Silvio Berlus coni, the prime minister-designate, fine-tuned his cabinet appointments yesterday, but a spokesman said the final list might not be ready until tomorrow.

Bossi under fire

MILAN - Efforts to form a new Italian government were thrown into turmoil yesterday after prosecutors asked for the indictments of Umberto Bossi, a key ally of the Prime Minister- designate, Silvio Berlusconi, and 36 others on charges of political financing violations. Mr Bossi, leader of the Northern League, was part of the conservative coalition that won the elections in March. AP

'Bribesville' trial ends with stiff sentence

IF ANY of Italy's huge army of corrupt politicians, businessmen, officials, go-betweens and hangers-on had hoped to be let off lightly, they will be far less optimistic now.

Last-minute hitches delay Berlusconi's final triumph

ROME - The media magnate Silvio Berlusconi will today be asked to form Italy's next government, according to a brief statement issued by the presidential office last night, writes Patricia Clough.

People: Chemical reaction

WITH his political career cut short in Italy's wide-ranging corruption scandal, Gianni De Michelis has returned to his old job - teaching organic chemistry. The loquacious former foreign minister went back to the classroom this week as a part-time lecturer at the University of Venice, where he had worked from 1964 to 1976, when he was elected a Socialist MP. Mr De Michelis had been on leave from the university and was entitled to return after losing his seat in last month's general elections.

Bossi sets tough terms for joining Italian government

PONTIDA - Umberto Bossi, the fiery leader of Italy's federalist Northern League, yesterday attached strict conditions to his party's entry into government and again raised the spectre of a breakaway by the north.

Italian alliance starts patching things up

THE LEADERS of Italy's fractious right-wing alliance showed signs yesterday of patching up the dispute over policy and power-sharing that had threatened to kill off the new government before it was born.

Italy's new ruling bloc still split

ONE WEEK after Silvio Berlusconi's right-wing alliance swept to victory in the Italian elections promising a swift transition to strong government, its members resume their haggling over power-sharing today further than ever from agreement.

Italy's 'post-Fascist' leader hails Mussolini

GIANFRANCO FINI, leader of the neo-Fascist National Alliance (AN), yesterday reminded Italians abruptly of whom they had elected when he described the Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini as the 'greatest statesman of the century'.

Leading Article: Un Ballo in Maschera

THE LOVE of illusion plays a pervasive role in almost all the great works of Italian thought and culture since the Renaissance. It is the serpent in the garden of that remarkably gifted land. Italy's finest political philosophy celebrates deception. The skill of her painters treats realism as a tiresome facade. On the opera set, characters put on masks. They intermingle, exchange roles, politely deceive and betray. It is, after all, tribute to the civilised wisdom of Italian life that the stiletto has usually been preferred to the bludgeon. But the mask remains an essential prop, and never more so than today.

Leading Article: Italy should not forget the centre Political skills that Italy will need

NOT LONG AGO, the theme of Italian politics appeared to be simple. A corrupt old order was to be cast out by resolute magistrates, reforming politicians and a public newly alive to the virtues of civic responsibility. A new republic would arise upon the bankrupt remnants of the old. The complex history of Italy is punctuated by such interludes of clarity - the Risorgimento, for example, or the two decades of Mussolini's rule.

Bossi links political ally with old regime: The leader of Italy's Northern League is seeing victory slip from his grasp, writes Patricia Clough in Gardone Val Trompia

'WATCH out]' The alarm, deep and hoarse, echoes among the silent houses of Gardone. The revolution that started here in the Alpine valleys and down on the Lombardy plain is in danger. 'Watch out . . . out . . . out]'

Leading Article: Showmanship returns to Italian politics

THE Italian journalist Luigi Barzini once wrote a best-selling study of his fellow countrymen in which the chapter on Fascism bore the wry title: 'Mussolini, or the limits of showmanship.'
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