Economic Demands Will Break Italian Gridlock, OECD’s Gurria Says

Economic realities will pave the way for Italian politicians to break out of the nation’s post-election gridlock, said Angel Gurria, secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

“Once you are in power, it’s very straightforward,” Gurria told reporters today in Helsinki. “You have much less room to maneuver than what the campaigns would suggest.”

Italian yields surged after elections Feb. 24-25 delivered a four-way parliamentary split and cast doubt on the stability of the next government. Pier Luigi Bersani, the top vote getter, has resisted engaging former Premier Silvio Berlusconi and said he would seek to hammer out a compromise with lawmakers elected under the upstart political movement of ex-comic Beppe Grillo.

“What happens in the political superstructure may cause noise,” Gurria said. “That applies for any country, but if the road map is clear and that’s what the people want, it is what’s going to happen, regardless of who’s in power.”

Italy’s economy, saddled with $2.6 trillion in debt, has contracted for 18 months. Its borrowing costs rose to the highest in four months at an auction of a new 10-year bond yesterday in Rome, even as demand increased from investors attracted by higher returns.

“Italians should focus on the fundamentals,” Gurria said, listing productivity, competitiveness, flexibility in the labor market, education and taxes. “This is what will keep the growth running in medium and long term.”

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