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[经济学人] [2009.1.29] Trouble with figures 都是数字惹得祸









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发表于 2010-4-29 02:00 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
Law and order in Italy

Trouble with figures

Jan 29th 2009 | ROME
From The Economist print edition

The problems that come from promising to crack down on immigration and crime

AT THE start of the year, Silvio Berlusconi must have felt everything was going his way. Italy’s right-wing prime minister was about to cure his biggest headache by selling the state’s holding in a troubled airline, Alitalia. His popularity rating was high. And the main opposition group, the Democratic Party (PD), had plunged into a crisis that could yet break it up.


Yet during the past week, a black cloud has appeared on Mr Berlusconi’s horizon. The law-and-order clampdown that was at the heart of his victory in last April’s general election is in trouble on two fronts.


One is in the southernmost part of Italy. Lampedusa, an island 310km (about 180 miles) north of Libya, has become the main gateway into Europe for Africans fleeing poverty and war. Of the 67,000 migrants who arrived in Europe by sea last year, according to UN figures, almost half landed on this patch of sand, which is a tenth the size of Martha’s Vineyard and has a resident population of barely 6,000.


Only a minority of clandestine immigrants to Italy come by sea and the government says their number is declining. But they are far more noticeable than those who quietly overstay their visas. Last year their numbers soared by 75%, embarrassing a government committed to blocking illegal immigration. In December the interior minister, Roberto Maroni, opted for deterrence. Previously migrants had been transferred from Lampedusa to Sicily, where those not given refugee status eventually received an essentially meaningless expulsion order. Some then chose to stay illegally in Italy; others moved on to other European Union countries.


Now Mr Maroni has decreed that the migrants should be held at a new identification and expulsion centre on Lampedusa itself until they are repatriated. But there are snags. One is that the new centre does not exist. After a wave of illegal landings this month, the numbers in the existing facility, which has a capacity of 850, rose to 1,800. Some detainees have been sleeping in the open under plastic sheets. The leader of a PD group that visited the site on January 23rd said he found “people crowded together in the rain, dormitories with three or four times the number who should be there and an infirmary in which the injured are piled up together”.


The day after his visit, hundreds of detainees broke out of the camp and joined local people demonstrating against the government’s plan. The islanders’ fear, said their mayor, Bernardino De Rubeis, is that Lampedusa could become a Mediterranean Alcatraz. For another problem with Mr Maroni’s scheme is that many immigrants cannot be sent home, either because their nationality is untraceable or because Italy does not have a repatriation deal with their countries. Fewer than 200 have been flown back from Lampedusa.


In so far as it reflects a tough stance on immigration, the crisis on Lampedusa is unlikely to erode support for the government. Far more threatening are events in Lazio, the region around Rome, which has seen a string of rapes. On January 27th police arrested five Romanians suspected of a horrendous gang rape a week earlier. A murderous sex attack by a Romanian in Rome in October 2007 first stirred demands for a crackdown on crime and foreigners, to which Mr Berlusconi successfully responded in the election campaign. Both voters and opposition politicians are now asking if the government’s policies are working, particularly the deployment of 3,000 troops to help the police. This week Mr Berlusconi incautiously promised to increase that number tenfold, before backing away.

政府在对待移民问题上立场强硬,而兰佩杜萨岛上的危机不大可能会侵蚀民众对政府的支持。罗马周边地区拉齐奥所发生的一连串的强奸案才更具威胁性。一月二十七号,警察逮捕了涉嫌一周前的一起骇人惊闻的轮奸案的五个罗马尼亚人。2007年十月的一起由一个罗马尼亚人制造的致命性性袭击案件引发了人们对严厉打击外国人和犯罪的要求,贝卢斯科尼先生在大选中成功的对此作出了回应。如今,选民和反对党人士都在质疑政府的政策是否有效,尤其是部署 3,000人的部队以协助警察这项政策。这周贝卢斯科尼先生曾鲁莽的承诺在裁撤之前还要将这一数字增加十倍。

In characteristic style he did so with a politically incorrect quip that drew criticism even from his supporters. “We would have to have as many soldiers as beautiful women, and I don’t think that would be possible,” he said. It is often the way with politics. Once trouble starts, it grows.


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