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Il Gattopardo

by Migeru Fri Mar 1st, 2013 at 01:40:48 AM EST

One of the all-time greatest political quotations comes from the Italian novel Il Gattopardo: everything needs to change, so everything can stay the same. And the result of the Italian election indicates that the 20-year process of change initiated with Tangentopoli and Mani Pulite is coming to a close, leaving everything as it was before.


Writing in the Financial Times, Wolfgang Münchau argues the case for a grand coalition in Italy, while conceding that

I am aware that almost every Italian political expert says this is not possible because of the confrontational style of politics and dozens of other reasons. I respectfully disagree. Italian parties have no experiences of a grand coalition, so much is true. Then again, the German politicians who entered grand coalitions in 1967 or 2005 did not either. Grand coalitions are certainly not a good way to govern countries over long periods because they leave radical fringe parties thriving in opposition. A grand coalition would leave Mr Grillo as the effective leader of the opposition. But grand coalitions can work well for a finite, predefined period, say for one parliamentary term.
But of course Italians are used to 'grand coalitions'. Think of the Popolo della Libertà as the old Democrazia Cristiana; of the Partito Democratico as the old Partito Sozialista; and cast the Movimento Cinque Stelle in the anti-establishment party role of the old Partito Communista. For 50 years the DC and PS agreed to shut the PC out of national power, though the PC was strong in local government. While disagreement on everything else and fractious personal politics ensured no PM lasted too long, the common goal of remaining on good terms with the American hegemon and defending the West™ from Communism™ allowed a 'grand coalition' and ensured parliaments served near full terms. Today, the hegemon is Germany, the old NATO is the EU, and the threat is not Communism but Grillo's version of 'Populism without racism'.

Give it some time until Berlusconi retires (maybe he will even retire now to allow for Alfano or Tremonti to join a government), and the 'change' will have been complete after 20-25 years.

Update [2013-2-27 1:56:1 by Migeru]: Here's some Celentano:

Display:
How's that for a nightmare?

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 26th, 2013 at 01:27:38 AM EST
I too drew a Grand Coalition upon the wall as the worst outcome, hypothetising a Berlusconi stepdown as a way to sell PdL's departure from Berlusconi's phony anti-austerianism and cheap Germanophobia in the campaign. I wonder how likely this scenario is, though.

One factor is that IMHO a Grand Coalition doesn't offer Berlu much in terms of his true goals, like blocking the judiciary. At the same time, he would have to consider the possibility that while he grinds up PD and Monti, his own anti-auterity voters drift off to Grillo, including a substantial part of those who have been held with the anti-communist whistle call in all previous elections. With these considerations, waiting in opposition for another government to self-destruct should seem a more attractive option.

As for Bersani, he would be in a uniquely bad situation in a Grand Coalition. Even if he has a wide majority in the Chamber, it is based on anything but a large popular mandate, and that makes significant voter erosion (one rivalling gains from Monti) during an austerity programme a virtual certainty. To boot, his coalitioners could defect to Grillo, tilting the balance within the Grand Coalition.

Still, departing from the austerity status quo (Bersani was quoted in the German media saying "Saving yes, austerity yes, but now we need to address jobs too") would demand a boldness and steadfastness on Bersani's part which is lacking in today's centre-left leaders. I am reminded of then German chancellor Gerhard Schröder after his government coalition's coming-from-behind election victory in October 2002: incensed at having been ditched by business circles and Bild, he thought of abandoning the 'reformist' line and doing the bidding of the only major force who still supported him in the campaign, the unions. This lasted only a few months or weeks, however: under fire from the media and sinking in the polls, he switched back to all-out reformism and launched Agenda 2000 in March 2003.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Feb 26th, 2013 at 03:03:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Based on the above considerations, now it seems to me that the most likely scenario is the Greek scenario: all sides playing for new elections, and Monti joining Bersani for those.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Feb 26th, 2013 at 03:15:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But Monti can't give anything: He is not needed in the chamber and much to weak in the senate.
by IM on Tue Feb 26th, 2013 at 04:09:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Italy's elections aren't proportional and election coalitions aren't stable. What Monti's voters and Monti can contribute in eventual new elections is (1) flipping about five more regions in the Senate race (thus getting the 55% bonus in 17 of the 19 regions that count!) and (2) make a government coalition in the Chamber more stable against defections.

Specifically in the Senate race: assuming Berlu's minions wouldn't get much more votes and a Bersani+Monti ticket would lose only a few percentage points compared to yesterday's election, of the seven regions now won by Berlu's coalition, Veneto, Lombardia, Abruzzo, Puglia and Calabria would all switch to Bersani, and Berlu would only keep Campania and Sicily.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Feb 26th, 2013 at 02:01:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wasn't assuming instantly new elections of course. I was talking about power in the now elected chambers.

There is also the question why this hasn't happened until now.

by IM on Tue Feb 26th, 2013 at 02:08:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was talking about power in the now elected chambers.

Then you shouldn't have attached your comment to mine as reply :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Feb 26th, 2013 at 02:17:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bersani:
"Saving yes, austerity yes, but now we need to address jobs too"

Sounds like Hollande. Of course, it's an extended oxymoron.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 26th, 2013 at 04:27:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In fact, if memory serves right, it also sounds like Monti. And that wasn1t an oxymoron but a promise he couldn't deliver.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Feb 26th, 2013 at 02:02:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems an oxymoron unless and until one can show how austerity can create jobs.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Feb 26th, 2013 at 11:04:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Should have said: wasn't just an oxymoron, but a promise he couldn't deliver (meaning, it's already proven in practice in Italy itself that such a policy is empty words).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Feb 27th, 2013 at 01:43:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, you have a point. And I would argue that the electoral system itself is an enforcement of the idea. Giving 55% to the leading coalition is pretty devious when no-one would enter a coalition with the biggest party -and of course that is the intention.

OK, giving 55% to the first is crazy in any case. It makes the entire lower chamber into a single first-past the post circunscription, a parody of democracy.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Tue Feb 26th, 2013 at 03:00:44 AM EST
The idea behind the automatic majority was to have clear government majorities, in hopes of ending the instability and corrupt coalition deals that marked post-war Italy. I don't know whether the authors of the idea believed that the political scene will continue to be ruled by 3-4 large parties, or even explicitly wished for a bipartisan system like in the USA. However, reality was that the party landscape still splintered, which meant that the realm of corrupt deals only moved from post-election to pre-election coalitions, with the lack of representativeness of FPTP added.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Feb 26th, 2013 at 03:12:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Your comment could apply to the previous electoral law drawn up in the wake of Tangentopoli and Clean Hands. It was called the Matarellum in honour of its author.

The present law was passed by Berlusconi and the Lega Nord only a few months before general elections in 2005 so as to penalize the Prodi coalition and give a better chance for the Berlusconi coalition to win. The law had has no noble intentions. Originally it was intended to have the same national "winner take all" in the Senate, but it was blocked as anti-constitutional. The constitutional court has called for a new law on the grounds that it is not as representative as it should be but ruled not to strike it off the books for other reasons. (It would have left a constitutional void: a nation cannot not have an electoral law.) Parliament has never heeded the calls of the highest court nor of the many small parties or associations that militate for a new electoral law.

In the last legislature, 57 attempts were made to change or substitute the law. Berlusconi has blocked them all. That's the situation we're in.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Wed Feb 27th, 2013 at 02:15:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
de Gondi:
It was called the Matarellum in honour of its author.

so we've gone from a loony bin to a pigsty... sounds about right!


"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2013 at 06:48:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Grillo is saying "there are no deals", he also said last night that the only possible government was a PD/PDL grand coalition. Enjoying the irony.

But anger and indignation are one thing, political reality is another.

In terms of ethics and of democracy, there is nothing wrong with a government which has no majority negotiating its legislation case by case in the Senate. We know that "the markets don't like it", but leave that aside for the moment.

What do 5 Stelle want? Logically they have a legislative agenda of reform. A lot of these reforms ought to be acceptable to the left.

This situation might allow 5 Stelle to propose their own legislation on a quid pro quo basis, in return for approving certain government legislation. But they would have their bargaining power reduced by the fact that the PD would be obliged to negotiate with the PDL as well.

The 5 Stelle agenda would clearly be better served by some form of alliance, however minimal (confidence and supply?) in return for a list of issues where they would have PD support. Better leverage.

And if their reform agenda is pertinent, they will be delivering results, and need not fear an electoral backlash.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Feb 26th, 2013 at 04:19:32 AM EST
Grillo is saying "there are no deals", he also said last night that the only possible government was a PD/PDL grand coalition. Enjoying the irony.
Bersani is saying nothing, and Burlesqueoni is saying new elections "would not be helpful".

Would making Bunga Bunga Senator for life solve his judicial problems? That might be one way out of the #HungaHunga parliament.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 26th, 2013 at 04:55:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
eurogreen:

A lot of these reforms ought to be acceptable to the left.

you'd think so, huh?

if they were remotely near what they pretend to be, that is.


"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2013 at 06:50:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The budget is still the core question. Even if Grillo supported a PD minority government he couldn't agree to an austerity budget. If Burlesquony is needed for the budget he can't be defanged. And if the PD agreed to a non austerity budget they'd force a decision between a turnaround in policy or (messy) dissolution of the Euro.

Von überall könnte das Volk, Urbrut alles Undemokratischen, Zelle des Terrors, über die gewählten Hüter von Wachstum und Wohlstand® kommen. - flatter
by generic on Thu Feb 28th, 2013 at 07:27:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is always the possibility of new elections if they can't agree on the budget. But, as I suggested elsewhere, considering all the bad laws in Italy created or kept by Berlusconi, something could be done even so.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Mar 1st, 2013 at 01:39:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If M5* abstains, could then a budget be passed in the senate with the help of Monti?

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Fri Mar 1st, 2013 at 01:44:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No. In normal votes,  which includes votes on the annual budget, an approval by the majority of those present is needed. From the Italian Constitution:

The decisions of each House and of Parliament are not valid if the majority of the members is not present, and if they are not passed by a majority of those present, save for those instances where the Constitution prescribes a special majority.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Mar 1st, 2013 at 11:19:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It would seem that a majority of the House of Parliament could be present if only the 5* members stayed away, but that seems unlikely, given Grillo's stance.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Mar 1st, 2013 at 12:45:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The parallel is tempting, if a little facile.

European Tribune - Comments - Il Gattopardo

the common goal of remaining on good terms with the American hegemon and defending the WestTM from CommunismTM

tends to place responsibility on the coalitionists more than on the hegemon. Yet, for decades, the US manipulated Italian political life, using also the Vatican and the Mafia, in order to block Communist access to power. If Italian political life today is fragile and exposed to mafioso-fascist cynics like Berlusconi, a great deal of the cause lies in that earlier period.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 26th, 2013 at 04:19:58 AM EST
beppe is getting votes from ex-berlu fans who hate bersani's mushy-middle  positions, voters who've had enough of all the old crew.
because beppe has chosen not to be L or R, this is happening. these will be less the hard-right types, who will lose market share if 5* philosophy is adopted, more opportunists tired of the old satyr.

bersani has no real jobs program that rings true, no new solutions, iow he's bankrupt, notwithstanding he's a safe(r) harbour still for centrists freaked by beppe's radicalism.

irony abounds... he got the most votes, but his power is constrained by forces to the left and right.

the spread will be back with a vengeance, and the techno-gvt is a card difficult to play twice.

so the euro will wobble again and the mealymouth centre left will continue to crumble under bersani's ineffectualism.

cutting renzi out was a big booboo.

best news in all this is how voters are deserting the lega nord.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Feb 26th, 2013 at 05:07:58 AM EST
Lega Nord: in the Chamber vote, more than halving from 8.29% in 2008 to 4.08% now, indeed voter desertion en masse. Though, that would still suffice for entry into parliament even running alone. And checking the various northern sub-regions, and even if losing over 10 points, they still score as high as 17.55% in Lombardy 2, and stayed above 10% in Lombardy 3 and both parts of Veneto (where their losses were the heaviest).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Feb 26th, 2013 at 02:16:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Montebourg : "Les peuples ne sont pas prêts à passer sous la table" Montebourg: "The people are not willing to give in without a fight"
Les Italiens ont sanctionné la politique économique imposée par l'Allemagne, s'est félicité, mardi 26 février, Arnaud Montebourg, après le vote italien. Le ministre français du redressement productif a applaudi l'affaiblissement de l'euro entraîné par ce scrutin, qui n'a pas dégagé de majorité stable dans la péninsule.Italians have voted down economic policy imposed by the Germany, welcomed, Tuesday, February 26, Arnaud Montebourg after Italian vote. The French Minister of productive recovery applauded the weakening of the euro caused by the poll, which did not give a stable majority in the peninsula.
A l'inverse, Pierre Moscovici a regretté que les résultats "compliqués" des élections législatives en Italie "créent des difficultés". Mais ils "ne remettent pas en cause les avancées de la zone euro". Le ministre français des finances a estimé que l'Italie devait "se doter vite d'un gouvernement stable et solide", appelant les responsables politiques italiens à "s'y atteler autour du chef de file de la coalition arrivée en tête, Pier Luigi Bersani", candidat de la gauche à la présidence du Conseil.Conversely, Pierre Moscovici regretted that the "complicated" results of the parliamentary elections in Italy "create difficulties." But they "do not undermine the progress of the euro area" . The French Minister of Finance felt that Italy should " quickly build a strong and stable government" , calling on Italian politicians to "get to work around the winning coalition's leader , Pier Luigi Bersani ", candidate of the left for the presidency of the Council.
"Les Italiens ont dit qu'ils n'étaient pas d'accord avec la politique imposée par les marchés", a insisté de son côté Arnaud Montebourg. "Je pense que les peuples ne sont pas prêts à passer sous la table, et c'est la démonstration italienne." M. Montebourg a dénoncé "le verrouillage monétaire" de la zone euro, qui correspond, selon lui, à une situation où la chancelière allemande "dicte le taux de l'euro". "The Italians said they disagreed with the policy imposed by the markets," Arnaud Montebourg insisted. "I think the peoples are not willing to give in without a fight, and this is what the Italian demonstrate." Mr. Montebourg denounced "monetary lockdown" in the euro zone, which corresponds, according to him, to a situation where the German Chancellor "dictates the rate of the euro" .
"Madame Merkel ne peut diriger seule l'Europe et fixer la parité", a-t-il enchaîné. "Je suis pour l'euro moins fort. L'euro est trop fort et il ne correspond pas aux fondamentaux économiques", a-t-il dit. "Je suis très content de la baisse de l'euro, et cette baisse doit continuer." Pour lui, la parité de l'euro est "une décision collective, qui doit correspondre aux fondamentaux des économies de la zone euro". "Merkel can not lead Europe and determine the exchange rate on her own" , he said. "I am for a weaker euro. The euro is too strong and it does not correspond to economic fundamentals" , he said. "I am very happy with the decline of the euro, and this decrease should continue." For him, the parity of the euro is "a collective decision, which must correspond to the fundamentals of the economies of the euro area" .


It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Feb 26th, 2013 at 08:37:41 AM EST
He sounds vaguely encouraging. On the other hand the only concrete policy he mentions is weakening the Euro exchange rate. Which in itself won't solve a single one of our problems.

Von überall könnte das Volk, Urbrut alles Undemokratischen, Zelle des Terrors, über die gewählten Hüter von Wachstum und Wohlstand® kommen. - flatter
by generic on Tue Feb 26th, 2013 at 10:19:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Open internal battle in the PS using the Italian elections?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Feb 26th, 2013 at 01:39:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, it appears that Montebourg is entitled to his opinions, up to a point, but that this is of no great consequence with respect to government policy. But yes, Montebourg's themes -- anti-corruption, institional reform, industrial policy, protectionism -- fit quite well with the 5 Stelle program.

Sapin's attitude is very discouraging, because it can be presumed to be close to the Hollande line. Instead of using the Italian result as leverage for a less-insane EU economic policy, he seems to be lining up to scold the Italians for not toeing the TINA line.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Feb 26th, 2013 at 03:09:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, for "Sapin" read "Moscovici". Interchangeable.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Feb 26th, 2013 at 03:10:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I misread it for Spain the first time through and needed a double take.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 27th, 2013 at 01:18:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What's sad is that these people not only can't see an opportunity when it hits them on the head, but they are incapable of power politics at European level all the while they are quite adept at it at national level (when it comes to managing a coalition).

Meanwhile, I am still wondering about this:

Spain's opposition leader Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba gave a strong anti-austerity message at a meeting in Turin in support of Bersani (video and transcript), which shows that the moderate left in Europe is beginning to distance itself with increased clarity from the policies currently pursued.

This was a clear S&D campaign guest appearance, yet Rubalcaba's line seems out of tune with Bersani's.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Feb 26th, 2013 at 04:49:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Rubalcaba is in opposition until the end of 2015, while Bersani has to appear serious as he's a prime minister in waiting.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 26th, 2013 at 05:38:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the current context it appears one is not 'serious' unless one is pushing seriously insane and destructive policies. In reality being serious probably means saying what one must in order to stay withing the good graces of at least a portion of the financial community's political donors.

But that boils down to the same thing. However, an opportunity seems visible. If a wealthy market player were to back some party capable of winning yet committed to bringing down the current fiasco by forcing recognition of the losses on everyone's books they could make the contributions and then short the appropriate markets. How does that differ in essence from what Soros did with the pound sterling - except it would be doing the average person a great favor?

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Feb 26th, 2013 at 11:15:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If a wealthy market player were to back some party capable of winning yet committed to bringing down the current fiasco by forcing recognition of the losses on everyone's books they could make the contributions and then short the appropriate markets.
So postmodern democracy requires benevolent dictators?

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 27th, 2013 at 01:20:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No. In that case it would be a self-interested market player treating the political process as market manipulation by other means. They do it all  the time. It would be ironic if, by so doing, one of them made a pile and pulled the plug on a corrupt system at the same time. That would be totally separate from whether or not any functional 'democracy' could be created out of the aftermath. I suspect that the collapse of the existing political-financial system is a prerequisite to any possibility of a government more representative of the broader interests of the subject population.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Feb 27th, 2013 at 02:48:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
IOW, necessary but not sufficient.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Feb 27th, 2013 at 02:49:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Beppe Grillo's Blog
First of all I just want to thank those extraordinary young people that made it possible to find the stages, the lights, the security services, the people that put us up in their homes, that have helped us with the camper. This is the difference between this grassroots movement and "the others". "The others" are paid and are carried around in buses with flags. We are all volunteers. This is why so many thanks are needed. I'll never be able to show my appreciation enough for these young people: they have been incredible. Then we have had a full dress rehearsal for the result. People say that they are finished and they know that. We haven't been aware that this is a generational war. What's needed is to be able to vote at 16 years old and to be a Senate representative at age 18, as in normal countries. There are about twenty million Italians that have stayed afloat during the crisis, that haven't wanted to take the plunge, because it's just possible that basically things are OK as they are. I don't know what we can do: hand back the country to Berlusconi, this "Mastrolindo" {cleaning geni} that has contributed to getting this country into a rut, for 6 months, a year. It's truly a crime against the galaxy, against the whole galaxy. Meanwhile we are perfecting our skills. We'll go into parliament and we won't even think of messy deals or even teeny weeny messy deals. We'll be an extraordinary force and we'll do everything that we have said we'll do in the election campaign. Citizen's income, let's start by being alongside the most vulnerable: nobody must get left behind. Let's start to use different words. There'll be 150 of us inside and a few million outside. This has been exceptional. The first entity in absolute terms after just three and a bit years, without money, without ever having accepted the reimbursement of expenses. Now we'd be eligible to have 100 million. We're not taking the money. We're going on like that. Wait for us in Parliament. It'll be a great pleasure to be able to observe what you do. I've been wondering where they will position us physically on the parliamentary benches, I hope behind all of you.
They will create a PDminusL - PDL super-government. We are the obstacle. They can no longer succeed against us. Let them resign themselves to that. They'll be able to keep going for 7 or 8 months and they'll produce a disaster but we'll try and keep them under control. We'll start to do what we've always said - our stars: water in public hands, schools in public hands, public health service. If they follow us they follow us. If they don't, the battle will be very harsh for them, very harsh. They cannot understand . They cannot conceive of things. They need psychiatric analysis. They are failed people. They've been there for 25, or 30 years, and they have brought the country to the point of catastrophe. What makes me feel really ill are the millions of people that have been staying afloat in the crisis, that have just been marginally affected by the crisis, that have managed to just get by to the detriment of the other lot of millions of people that cannot go on any more. Italy's problem is this set of people. And as long as the salaries and the pensions of these people are not at risk it's fine to immobilise the country. But this won't last long. This situation won't last long at all."



"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Feb 26th, 2013 at 09:45:26 AM EST
As usual, a comedian makes much more sense than Serious Politicians™ do.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 26th, 2013 at 12:02:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would advice Napolitano to charge Matteo Renzi to form a government.

Renzi would form a government with Cinque Stelle.

It must last at the least two and a half years. It must quit once its main program points have been met and only if there is an economic turn-around.

There must be no goodiness in choosing Commission presidents. Under no circumstances is the opposition to have a single presidency. Only ruthless bastards of proven leftist convictions should be allowed to run parliamentary commissions. Key legislation shall no longer be parked in commission limbos. Or, any bill that remains over a set limit of time in commission must automatically be voted on the floor as is.

A law must be passed that heavily taxes the transmission of private channels in public places. Broadcasting state TV in public will be free of charge. If Strausburg rules against Italy on that, well, to hell with them. We'll pay the fine. We've been paying Berlusconi's abuses for decades. For once it will be for a good cause.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Wed Feb 27th, 2013 at 06:00:43 PM EST
de Gondi:
I would advise Napolitano to charge Matteo Renzi to form a government.

Renzi would form a government with Cinque Stelle.

wow that's intelligent.
renzi could be an acceptable, credible face of italian modern leadership, were he to adopt the 5* platform.

if he had won the primary against bersani, it's possible the PD would have won more votes, bersani is so old school, and italian politics is conspicuously lacking in fresh blood.

unhooking vendola from bersani's coattails could only be a Good Thing for the country.

then di pietro could be the new president once napolitano has left, redeemed by his last gesture suggested in de G's comment.

renzi's (youthful?) pride is easily ruffled, but he can make sense on a good day. as mayor of florence my perception is that he is competent, and so far operating with less of the corruption than usual.

i could be wrong though.
 unbiased reporting is thin on the ground, and the style used by the MSM here is so florid as to be unreadable.

great use of lateral thinking, de G, you're way ahead of the curve on this, has anyone else seen this possible governability dilemna-buster, or is that your original prescription?


"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2013 at 03:04:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are so many sterile and often illogical "elucubrations" (love that word!) of the sort, "Had the PD chosen Renzi, I would have voted for them..." As if everyone takes it for granted the premise that Italy needs a saviour, the one man job. Considering the utter lack of debate- of substantial confrontation- in these elections, what I consider the natural evolution of electoral politics anyway, well, just give them Renzi.

Since there's nothing in the Constitution that obliges the President of the Republic to base his choice of Council President on an electoral process, he can just as well open a phone book and choose whatever name his finger alights on. And for good reason the constitutional provision was made after the experience of 20 years of fascist dictatorship.

I must, once again, remind everyone that in Italy, the Council President is not elected. (It's the same, by the way, in Great Britain.)  The gimmick of the Porcellum law was to conflate the juridical figure of the "President of the Coalition" with the "President of the Council." It was a great PR trick: fill the streets with billboards written, "Berlusconi President." It was never written, "Berlusconi for President" because it's anti-constitutional. "Berlusconi President" always and only meant that he was the "President of the Coalition" which has the legal clout of the two of spades.

They almost always coincide but there is no legal basis for it. Monti is one case. That's how Berlusconi got around his deal with the Lega Nord: He simply made it plain- written on running water- that he would not aspire to becoming Council President. As for parties running alone, they have no president as the Porcellum stipulates. Cinque Stelle which is a party, whether they like it or not, has no (coalition) president because it is not in a coalition.

I hope this is clear now to everyone.

Of course, Renzi would just as well make a deal on the right and end up being served as an appetizer at one of Berlusconi's "elegant dinners," garnished with plastic butterflies. Shish Kebab.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Thu Feb 28th, 2013 at 04:17:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Knowing next to nothing about Italian politics I googled the names of Georgio Napolitano and Matteo Renzi and did a quick read, from which it seems that the suggestion is brilliantly appropos. From ET to Napolitano's ear! At the very least it would have a chance of moving things along in a positive direction.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2013 at 12:38:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you'd Googled Renzi and Grillo, you'd see that the former is the "Ebetino di Firenze". I suppose this is a pretty mild insult by Grillo's standards....
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2013 at 01:01:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It might make sense were there any translations available for 'ebetino'. I have found none.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2013 at 03:56:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Little idiot".

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Feb 28th, 2013 at 04:08:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The day's round up has Ratzinger off to Castelgandolfo for his first leg of spiritual retirement. US Secretary of State Kerry dropped into town for a chat over Syria. At a luncheon offered by the Americans Kerry explained that the US has been watching Grillo sometime and consider him credible.

Reportedly, Bersani will make a speech in parliament offering radical reforms as a priority to meet the agenda of the five-star movement. He is supposedly pessimistic about the long-term stability of a government and would pass the buck to Renzi if he fails.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Thu Feb 28th, 2013 at 04:19:21 PM EST
I forgot to mention that Berlusconi is under investigation today in Naples for having allegedly bought Sergio De Gregorio back in 2006 to put Prodi in minority in the Senate. De Gregorio admitted having received three million euro from Berlusconi for leaving the majority immediately after being elected head of the Defense Commission- with the help of the Berlusconi opposition at the time.

Berlusconi is preparing a speech against the Italian judiciary and has called for mass demonstrations against magistrates in the days to come. It will be his calling card against any attempt to make tougher anti-corruption legislation or bolster the investigative forces with much needed resources.

De Gregorio has been the butt of many of my comments in the past. Here, here, here, ad nauseum... I guess he's at the end of the line- or is just constructing yet another trap as he has done throughout his fascinating career. That's Italy.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Thu Feb 28th, 2013 at 04:47:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, what's 5*'s bottom line on institutions?

I'm just making this up, but :

  • independence of the judiciary; loss of eligibility for all convicted criminals (final stake through the heart of the Berlusconi system)
  • salary cuts for the political class, end of public funding
  • electoral system reform (they will want what, a single-member constituency two round system, or what?)

What are the things that Bersani cannot agree to? (and how many members of parliament would he lose to the convictions thing?)

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Fri Mar 1st, 2013 at 03:39:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Grillo's program is online. I haven't found an English version. Basically many of his points are feasible and are often taken from legislation long since experimented in other European nations.

His is an attempt to modernize Italy. As the Gattopardo implied, it will be next to impossible but worth the try.

I wish there were an English version of his program so that it would be easier to discuss. In fact it surprises me there isn't. As for your points: the judiciary is only subject to the law. It is the most independant judiciary among constitutional democracies. The law on eligibility of criminals needs to be harsher and effective. Salary cuts for politicians is in the program while electoral reform is a common issue in most political platforms.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Mar 1st, 2013 at 07:14:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is the English version of the Five Stars Movement program.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Mar 1st, 2013 at 12:55:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/03/01/will-grillo-break-the-euro/


    Who are the ones who own our debt? To whom are we paying the interest that is destroying the State's budget? Only 15% are families, 40% are foreigners (and of those more than half are in France and Germany), 19% are finance funds and insurance companies, 20% are Italian banks and 6% the Bank of Italy (). The public debt is regularly transformed into something for market speculation. When States sell new bonds to replace those that are coming to maturity, markets experience speculators who are contributing to price falls so as to bring about higher interest rates. It's the usurer's technique. Thus the debt becomes an opportunity to maximise earnings in the market at the expense of the nation. As a consequence social inequality increases. 11% of Italian families are living in poverty and 7.6% are at risk (), from 2008 to June 2012 Italian families have been subjected to a hole of 330 billion euro (**). If financial powernbrokers use speculation to increase their earnings and they force governments to pay the highest possible interest rates, the result is recession for the State that's in debt as well as their loss of sovereignty. ...

    The spiral of increasing debt and interest rates is making Italy disintegrate, together with other European States. There are alternatives. These are being put into effect by some countries in South America and by Iceland. The burden of the crisis has to be distributed across creditors (mostly banks and financial institutions) and citizens. There has to be a really fierce attack on speculation....We are running into a wall and they are telling us there's no alternative. The risk is that we are going to reach default in any case with the devaluation of the debt and the Nation impoverished and on its knees." (Beppe Grillo blog)

Grillo's understanding of Italy's debt woes is reason to be optimistic. First of all, he rejects the idea that the debt is the result of profligate spending ("we have been really virtuous"). Instead, he pins the blame on speculators who are presently extracting more rent from Italy's coffers than can be reasonably managed.

Second, the growing burden of the debt is increasing inequality, insecurity and poverty. as well as putting a damper on growth.

And, finally, he sees the only remedy to the ballooning $2 trillion debt as some form of default which transfers the bulk of the losses to the speculators who risked their money betting on Italian sovereign bonds. It is these "banks and financial institutions" that must take haircuts, so that Italy can reduce its debt-load without foisting more red ink on working people who-to this point-have shouldered 100% of the losses from the financial crisis.

the rest of the article is overly dismissive. why should beppe's wealth be a problem? he's not jesus...

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Mar 2nd, 2013 at 07:43:10 AM EST
Will Grillo Break the Euro? » Counterpunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names
Grillo is no hypocrite, but he's no revolutionary either. He is, in fact, a slightly left-of-center, self promoting, charismatic firebrand who has tapped into the collective angst and anger of a large part of the population, and is using that power to influence policy. The problem is, he doesn't really know what he wants and being anti-corruption and anti-austerity is not a platform.

With corrupt austerity being the main policy of the day, I think it is a great platform. Yes, it is a reactive platform but that is the same as building a platform on existing anger rather then anger that should exist.

Yes, new movements has weaknesses and dependence on charismatic individuals is one of them. And it will be interesting to see how M5* fares in parliament. But this critique feels more of the "not proper revolutionary" kind that is so common and destructive.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Mar 2nd, 2013 at 09:03:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]

 With corrupt austerity being the main policy of the day, I think it is a great platform.

i agree, it's the only one that makes sense.

besides it's bullshit saying that it's no platform they have, when they have many great changes they want to make.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Mar 2nd, 2013 at 01:44:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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