by Eric J. Lyman
ROME, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- With the Italian government embroiled its most drawn out political crisis in nearly a generation, experts say the day-to-day work of the government is starting to suffer.
From high profile issues like the protracted trash crisis in Naples and the collapse of an ancient wall in the archeological site of Pompeii, along with less obvious issues like pending internal tax and environmental reforms or Italy's participation in multilateral negotiations, the perception by many is that Italy's government may be distracted by a political turmoil.
"In many ways, the country has become like a doctor trying to keep its most terminal patients alive for another day rather than focusing on prevention of problems before they become critical," Alessandro Lombardo, an author and political scientist with Roma Tre University, told Xinhua.
The crisis has been simmering since at least early summer, when Gianfranco Fini, a former ally of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, announced he would no longer support the government in all cases, and it reached its boiling point earlier this month when Fini called on Berlusconi to step down.
The latest development is that a confidence vote on Berlusconi's government is scheduled to take place on Dec. 14, soon after the expected passage of the country's 2011 budget.
Political crisis is not unusual in Italy, where there have been 60 governments over the last 64 years. What is unusual about the current crisis is its duration.