A political row about the successes and failures of the single European currency has been waged in Italy since the French and Dutch rejections of the European Union's constitution, on 29 May and 1 June respectively. The traditionally pro-European Italians have become much more Euro-sceptic since Silvio Berlusconis centre-right government took office in 2001 and the euros arrival in January 2002, which many blame for rising inflation. The Lega Nord devolutionist party in the governing coalition considered close to the prime minister has blamed the euro for the current recession in Italy and called for the resurrection of the Italian lira, possibly in an attempt to deflect attention from the governments record on the economy. The main opposition leader Romano Prodi, who took Italy into the euro as prime minister in the late 1990s before serving as president of the EU commission, claims the euro has benefited Italians by bringing down interest rates and making loans attainable for the majority of families. His words were echoed by central bank governor Antonio Fazio, who has praised the euro for bringing stability. With a general election scheduled for spring 2006, the euro and its role in the stalled Italian economy are likely to feature prominently.
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