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The political upheaval of a new government in Italy — led by a partnership of leftwing and rightwing populists, one strong in the south, the other in the north — has given Brussels the jitters. The question on everyone’s lips is whether the new government will trigger an economic crisis and, if so, what might follow?

This mess is the fault of both Italy and the EU, writes Martin Wolf in his column. Italians are detached from the EU and contemptuous of its establishment. They also feel they have been abandoned to cope with their migration crisis by themselves. Then there are economic concerns. Since the financial crisis, real GDP growth per head in Italy has been more sluggish than even in Greece. The result has been a spiral of populism, with unhappy voters leading to irresponsible promises from politicians, leading to bad outcomes.

Things could get worse, warns Martin. The new government could continue with its dangerous policies, triggering a run on Italian debt and banks. From there, it doesn't take too many leaps of imagination to see the country effectively crashing out of the eurozone. That would be a monstrous crisis for Italy and the damage could take years to resolve.

Rights to life
Ireland’s abortion referendum on Friday is the result of a national argument that has been rumbling since the mid-19th century when abortion was first made illegal, explains historian Clair Wills. But it wasn’t until the early 1980s that an alliance of conservative and right-wing groups introduced the eighth amendment to the constitution, making the right to life of the unborn child equal to the life of its mother. The result has been a series of horrific and preventable deaths of Irish women, many of whom are now fighting to have the amendment repealed.

Critics of multibillion dollar mergers often fret about the impact the resulting monopolies will have on consumers, driving up prices in a market without competition. But what about the impact on workers? asks Sarah O’Connor. In real life, a “monopsony” — when a few employers in an area can dictate salaries and working hours — can be just as scary. Consumers need options or they will be ripped off. The same goes for workers.

The Notorious R.B.G.
Courtney Weaver has been watching a new documentary about the life of the US Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who in her 85th year has cemented her reputation as a force to be reckoned with. After she called Donald Trump “a faker” — and then had to apologise — her fans bought souvenirs emblazoned with her crowned head and nicknamed her after the Brooklyn rapper, B.I.G. There is even a book that details her workout routine: apparently she favours planks and push-ups.

Best of the rest

Ireland’s abortion referendum is revolutionary politics, whoever wins — Lizzie O’Shea in the Guardian

Saudi Arabia hits the brakes on reforms — Simon Henderson in the Atlantic

India’s democracy is more delicate than it seems — Milan Vaishnav in Foreign Policy

Stop giving Trump the benefit of the doubt — Michelle Goldberg in the New York Times

Should Jeremy Corbyn back a second EU referendum on the final terms of Brexit? — Stephen Bush in the New Statesman

What you’ve been saying

Letter from Tom Kadala

Is it not unfair and untimely to criticise President Donald Trump while in the middle of negotiations with China rather than after? The “art of the deal” is a task that can often change. Effective negotiations may risk appearing unpredictable by one side, when in fact they were crafted deliberately and strategically by the other. The “games of negotiating” should be allowed to play out in their entirely by both sides.

Comment by Bryan O’Donaghue on Irish abortion vote shows changing social mores

The notion that the “right thing to do” is to clasp hands over eyes and ears, shout about a right to life and quietly accept Irish women in their thousands traveling to Britain and taking dodgy pills in private is the height of pious hypocrisy. Vote Yes, grasp the nettle, let the Oireachteas not Westminster decide the best way to regulate and access Irish abortion. Provision early and honest sex education, provide free contraception to all teenagers.

Today’s opinion

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the super diva of America’s Supreme Court
The opera-loving judge has become a cult figure imitated on ‘Saturday Night Live’

Italy’s new rulers could shake the euro
If it were to crash out of the single currency and default, the damage would be huge

Free Lunch: In investment and geopolitics, money talks
If the EU does not put its money where its mouth is, China will

Ireland’s abortion vote campaign shows changing social mores
American ‘family values’ rhetoric would not go down well now among Irish voters

Instant Insight: Can the damage from Italy’s populist experiment be limited?
Five Star and the League may find the Italian constitution blocks their fiscal plan

Big mergers and tiny factories can each pose problems for workers
When suppliers have few options, employees have fewer still

Oxford scheme offers path from disrupted schooling to university
Student recalls chance moment she learnt about a new route in to a top degree

FT View

FT View: Making decisions that the computers cannot
Research on the social impact of AI cannot be left to industry alone

FT View: Donald Trump sets America on a collision course with Iran
The nuclear deal averted war. New US plans create the conditions for one

The Big Read

The Big Read: Lula’s legacy of working-class gains at risk in Brazil’s election
Corruption and the country’s worst recession has devastated mainstream parties

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