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Italy in Europe's spotlight: insights from former PM Enrico Letta

Whoever said, "when in Rome, do as the Romans do" clearly could not envision what would become of Italian politics. Since 1989 the country has had 18 prime ministers, six in the last decade alone. And while the pandemic afforded the government some much-needed political unity in the short-term, the warm feelings cooled quickly this winter as political infighting forced a popular prime minister to resign. But Italy's new leader, Mario Draghi (nicknamed "Super Mario"), looks like he just might break the mold and deliver positive change—and political stability—to Italy. That's according to Enrico Letta, one of those six prime ministers to have resigned in the last ten years. Letta joins Ian Bremmer on this episode of GZERO World.

Podcast: Italy In Europe's spotlight: insights from former PM Enrico Letta

Listen: Whoever said, "when in Rome, do as the Romans do" clearly could not envision what would become of Italian politics. Since 1989 the country has had 18 prime ministers, six in the last decade alone. And while the pandemic afforded the government some much-needed political unity in the short-term, the warm feelings cooled quickly this winter as political infighting forced a popular prime minister to resign. But Italy's new leader, Mario Draghi (nicknamed "Super Mario") looks like he just might break the mold and deliver positive change—and political stability—to Italy. That's according to Enrico Letta, one of those six prime ministers to have resigned in the last ten years. Letta joins Ian Bremmer on this episode of the GZERO World podcast.

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Why Europe’s vaccine rollout has been so tortured

The EU acted swiftly, decisively, and effectively to respond to the pandemic's economic fallout. A nearly trillion dollar bailout package, agreed to late last July, has kept much of the continent afloat. But it failed on the public health response, first on testing and then rolling out vaccines. Enrico Letta, Italy's former prime minister, shares his thoughts on the reasons why in a conversation with Ian Bremmer on the latest episode of GZERO World, airing on public television stations nationwide starting this Friday, March 26. Check local listings.

What We're Watching: Biden's immigration dilemma, "illiberals" sue EU, China tramples on HK democracy, Lego sales soar

Immigrants flock to the US-Mexico border: President Biden has already undone many of the Trump administration's harsh immigration programs, saying that he is ushering in more "humane" policies. Since then, an influx of migrants mainly from Central America has flocked to the US-Mexico border in the hopes of seeking asylum in the United States. The number of children and families reaching the border increased by more than 100 percent between January and February 2021, according to US Customs and Border Protection. Importantly, the number of children arriving on their own has also surged 60 percent in that time, presenting a particular challenge for the US president, who campaigned heavily against Trump's policy of detaining unaccompanied minors. The Biden administration says that the recent surge is linked to a renewed sense of "hope" after Trump's hardline immigration stance, but this development puts Biden in a massive bind: he wants to stay true to his image as a humane and compassionate leader, while also not opening the floodgates on immigration — still a hot button issue in the United States. Indeed, this problem is only going to get worse in the months ahead.

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Has Italy's far right really changed its tune?

Italian politician Matteo Salvini has long been one of Italy's most outspoken critics of the EU — just a year ago he called the Union a "den of snakes and jackals." But the plain-spoken firebrand has abruptly changed his tune in recent weeks, joining the national unity government led by Prime Minister Mario Draghi. As far European politicians go, Draghi, a former head of the European Central Bank, is about as pro-EU as you can get. So what might have prompted Salvini's surprising about-face? And what does it mean for the future of far-right populism in the EU's third-largest country?

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Was the EU’s bungled vaccine rollout inevitable?

"We're still not where we want to be," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said this week about the European Union's sluggish vaccine rollout. It was a sort of concession from the EU chief, who's been criticized for overseeing a bungled inoculation rollout in the world's largest trading bloc.

To date, around four percent of the bloc's population has been vaccinated, compared to 13 percent in the US, and 20 percent in the UK.

Why has the EU rollout been so slow, and what does this mean for Europe and its politics?

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Xi Jinping's WEF speech on China's global leadership falls flat; Italy PM resigns over stimulus

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics on this week's World In (More Than) 60 Seconds:

What did you think of Xi Jinping's speech at the virtual World Economic Forum?

Well, his last speech at the real World Economic Forum in Davos, I remember being there four years ago, and given that Trump had just been elected, Xi Jinping gives this big, "We want to stand up and be leaders while the Americans are doing America first." And generally speaking, was probably the most important speech of the week. People liked it. This is a pretty different environment, not so much because Trump has gone, but rather because support and belief in Xi Jinping is pretty low. I will say one thing that was generally well responded to was the call not to enter into a new Cold War. Anybody in the business community generally supports that. There's so much integration and interdependence between the US and the Chinese economies that when Xi Jinping says, "We need to find ways to continue to work together," I mean, this is the pro-globalization audience he's speaking to. They generally agree. But otherwise, the message fell pretty flat. So, the idea that China is going to be globally useful on issues of leadership, especially when it comes to anything that might threaten Beijing's sovereignty, they check global norms at the door. And a few examples of that, when Xi called for support for the rules-based international order, that's in obvious contrast with China's violation of the one country, two systems framework in Hong Kong. And they said, "Well, that's a domestic issue." Well, actually that's not what your agreement was with the British handover. And just because you're more powerful doesn't mean that norm doesn't matter anymore.

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