Italy's Culture Minister Faces Confidence Vote

Sandro Bondi is best known for his outspoken statements regarding the cinema industry.


ROME -- The process that will determine the fate of controversial Italian Minister of Culture Sandro Bondi got underway Monday, when parliament began debating his performance in a process that will conclude with a confidence vote later in the week.

Bondi, a long-time ally of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, is the subject of a parliamentary vote because of his handling of his ministry's budget in relation to the maintenance of historical sites. The topic came to light last year after the collapse of two separate walls within the ancient archeological site of Pompeii.

But Bondi is best known for his statements regarding the cinema industry. Last year, Bondi grabbed headlines when he criticized auteur and Venice Film Festival jury head Quentin Tarantino for the prizes the jury handed out and he said he believed the government should have the final say over the jury selection for the 67-year-old Venice festival.

Earlier, Bondi boycotted the Cannes and Locarno Film Festivals because they screened films critical of the government, and he said he would develop new criteria for determining which film projects where worthy of state funding, a move many in the industry said smacked of censorship.

Debate on Bondi's future got underway Monday, and is likely to conclude on Wednesday or Thursday, according to the local media. The final step will be a straight confidence vote on Bondi's performance. If he loses, he will be forced to step down. Bondi declared on Monday he had no intention of appearing in parliament in his defense.

Berlusconi faced a similar confidence vote in December, and narrowly won, squeaking out a three-vote majority in the 630-member lower house.