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Emma Bonino: Italy, a country in crisis
The vice president of the Italian senate says that democracy is incomplete without accountability and transparency.
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2012 09:29

Silvio Berlusconi has been found guilty of tax evasion. But ask an Italian about the former prime minister and chances are they think he will never actually go to jail.

Many Italians say they want to clean up the political system, but is there much being done?

A brand new anti-corruption law adopted last week has already been criticised as a watered-down half measure. It will not even cover vote-selling or money laundering.

And the push to reform the electoral law seems to be going nowhere although the country's next election is only five months away.

Party bosses still decide who will run for office and in what district.

"I think the real cancer in my country is the party system," says Emma Bonino, the vice president of the Italian senate.

"This is not a democracy, this is not a democracy when you cannot elect your representative because it is decided by the party's secretary general," she says. "It's not a democracy when accountability and transparency is nowhere to be seen."

And then there is the financial crisis.

The third-largest economy in Europe is experiencing drastic cuts in public spending. Business people are so frustrated that many of them have given up and have even taken their own lives.

Savings have been imposed by Mario Monti, the country's prime minister, but will they work? Or is there more chaos ahead? And how will all this impact the rest of Europe?

"My country has been living out of its own possibilities over the last 20, 30 years," Bonino says, expressing concern about the lack of reform in Italy in recent decades.

"I don't think we can fix the country in six months, this is totally impossible," she adds.

"In particular you don't fix a national economy when you are so inter-related with the European economy, and the European institution. So we have to address our specific problem but we also have to address the crisis of Europe.

"We have lost our heart, our ambition, our project, our vision," she says, expressing the need to build a better and more integrated Europe.

In this episode of Talk to Al Jazeera, Emma Bonino sits down with Folly Bah Thibault and talks about her country in crisis.

Talk to Al Jazeera can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0430; Sunday: 0830, 1930; and Monday: 1430.

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