Italian Parliament Fight: Fisticuffs in Government as Berlusconi Heads to Brussels

Politics became heated Wednesday in Rome, Italy when two deputies of Italian parliament exchanged blows concerning the new economic reform bill.

The fight was a result of sarcastic comments made by Gianfranco Fini, leader of the Future and Liberty of Italy Party. On a televised interview, Fini referenced the wife of Northern league leader Umberto Bossi, claiming that Bossi's hesitance to change Italy’s current, and what many call dated pensions plan, is because his wife retired as a school teacher at age 39.

In response, Bossi told his rival to “leave the country.”

Italy's pension plan is known to provide state employees with generous benefits, therefore allowing many to retire early.

Although Fini verbally attacked Bossi, the physical fight took place in the Parliament house in Rome. According to Reuters, at least two members of the Northern League fought with members of the FLI. Other parliamentarians attempted to intervene when FLI party member Claudio Barbato went for the neck of Northern league member Fabio Ranieri.

“Scuffles are not rare in Italy’s Parliament,” said Associated Press.

The fight occurred even though Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Bossi were able to reach a compromise on increasing the retirement age in Italy late Tuesday night. By 2025, the retirement age will be raised from 65 to 67.

Compromises were reached just in time for Berlusconi to speed off to Brussels for an emergency EU summit meeting to save the Euro from the debt crisis, which has spread to many countries, including Greece and Ireland.

At the meeting, Berlusconi will deliver a 15-page letter of intent, outlining Italy’s plans for avoiding the spreading debt and keeping the Euro strong.

In a speech in Berlin today, Chancellor Angela Merkel told the lower house that the talks “won’t be easy.” Merkel will be heading the EU summit meeting beginning today.

“We’re all in new territory,” she added.

Critics contend that Berlusconi’s compromise with League leader Bossi saved Italian government.

“The deal with the Northern League averts an immediate government crisis that put Berlusconi’s leadership at risk,” contends the Associated Press.

The Wall Street Journal attributes a correlation between the fight and the global market, citing that the euro was down .7 percent after the fight broke out, with U.S. and European stock indexes in the red.