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The President meets the Clown

by melo Sat Jul 13th, 2013 at 05:33:11 PM EST

   Beppe Grillo asked for an interview with President Napolitano, and was received gracefully and swiftly. (A few days before Beppe refused a cozy dinner with the head of Confindustria, the alliance of business magnates that sit at the apex of Italy's dying industrial sector.)

   Beppe dressed up in a suit and tie, forsaking his usual rumpled look for the occasion, no bobble nose or platypus shoes. His shaggy web guru Casaleggio accompanied him. Hacking into gubmint is hard work!

  This is Grillo's letter of thanks to Napolitano after the two-hour meeting. It sounds a dire warning to all listening of what Italy has coming down the proverbial pike, and the growing list of things that need to be done immediately to avert a climactic consequence to the tragedy of years of austerity-as-practiced-by stupid, corruptly captured politicians, jerked on their puppet strings by a superannuated, scandal-ridden roué. The clown is not joking...or mincing his words either. His respect for the Presidency is genuine, his challenge that of any concerned citizen looking at his country's impending meltdown. His moVement has been voted into Parliament to bear witness, and as the old guard duopoly of C.Left and C. Right, now wedded in frankensteinian matrimony take up their unseemly habit of bickering over inanities in their insulated bubble while Rome figuratively burns, the 5*** moVement stands ready to step up into the vacuum of responsibility, to try to better govern this lovely land with many progressive ideas. Italian politics was a stitched-up logjam till you popped up, Signor' Clown.

             Good luck and thanks, Beppe!

                  A Casa La Casta!

                    Giubileo!


Beppe Grillo's Blog

"To the President of the Italian Republic

I asked for this meeting, and I'd like to thank you for the promptness of your response. I wanted to meet you to be able to tell you directly about my worries for the economic, social and political situation of the country, as I'm convinced that urgent and extraordinary measures, equal to those of a war economy, can no longer wait, even one more day.
Italy is en route to catastrophe. Those who are governing the country today are the ones responsible for its destruction they are the same people who have destroyed the economy. This political class is not capable of resolving any problem. They themselves are the problem. The Government of Broad Agreements, that you were strongly in favour of, is just protecting the "status quo" and Berlusconi's interests. In any other western democracy, Berlusconi would not be allowed to hold any public position, and he certainly wouldn't be allowed to sit in Parliament. The Nation is a pressure cooker that is about to explode, but for the last few months the Letta Government is amusing itself with postponing the IMU property tax and reducing the sales tax by one percentage point without finding any solution. The figures demonstrating the collapse are visible to anyone who wants to look and they are dramatic. The unemployment rate is the highest it's ever been since 1977, the constant collapse in industrial production that will be at minus three per cent in 2013, the continual rise in the public debt that has reached 2,040 billion euro, the collapse of companies that are closing down at a rate of one a minute, taxation levels that are the highest in Europe, both for companies and for individuals, salaries that are among the lowest in the EU, the collapse of consumption, even food products, and debt levels experienced by families. It's a disaster like we had at Caporetto and there's no one at the backup position on the River Piave. They are all in the grand buildings postponing decisions and making announcements. Parliament has been deprived of its functions. The electoral laws dubbed "Porcellum" {pigswill} is unconstitutional and the parliamentarians have been appointed by a handful of party secretaries. The Government is making legal decrees without allowing a minimum of time to scrutinise them and Parliament is approving as commanded. For some time now, we are no longer a parliamentary republic, and we are perhaps not even a democracy.
The public debt is devouring us. We are paying interest on it amounting to about 100 billion euro a year, and that's growing day by day. Just this year, so as not to go under, we'll have to sell public bonds to a value of 400 billion euro. State revenues are about 800 billion year, and of that, one euro in every eight goes to pay off the interest on the debt. Our leaders Berlusconi, Monti, and Letta have not managed to put a stop to the spiral of public debt, that is growing at a rate of 110 billion a year. The interest payments on the debt and the fall in tax revenues due to the mass collapse of companies, to unemployment and to the collapse of consumption, represents the certainty of a default soon. There's no choice. The public debt has to be restructured. The annual interest payments will do away with social expenditure, investment and research. It's as though we were in "The NeverEnding Story" where "The Nothing" consumes reality. The interest on the debt is eating up the social State. It's possible to stay within the euro, but only renegotiating the conditions. This can be done either by issuing eurobonds that I believe is essential, or alternatively by restructuring our debt and that would above all have an impact on Germany and France that hold most of the 35% of our public bonds held abroad. We cannot collapse for the sake of the euro. No one can ask us to do this - nor oblige us to. At the end of 2011, 50% of Italian State bonds were held by foreign bank or institutions. Since then, our banks have bought back about 300 billion from abroad and this includes bonds about to become due and then re-issued to the market. They did this thanks to last year's loan from the ECB, a loan guaranteed by the States, including the Italian State. They did this instead of providing credit to the companies. And it's come down to 35%. That's the best way of going bankrupt. When we've bought back all the foreign debt and we no longer have any industrial capacity, we will collapse and the EU will stand and watch, as has happened in Greece. Now that we have power to negotiate, we must use it now.
Italy has an absolute need to help the small firms with measures like cutting the Irap tax on production, with taxation on a par with the European average, with services that are efficient and less costly, with the protection of the "Made in Italy" brand to cover only what is actually produced in Italy and with the possible application of import duties on certain products. At the same time there's an urgent need for bringing in a "citizen's income". No one must be left behind. We are worried about the world's problems when we cannot manage to give assistance to older people and when we are not offering work to our young people who have to emigrate in their hundreds of thousands.
Measures like the citizen's income and the revival of SMEs are possible immediately by cutting the thousand privileges and useless spending. Listing a few.
Cut out the provinces, bring down the maximum for pensions to 5,000 euro, cut out public financing to the parties and the newspapers, return the handling of public concessions to the government, starting with the motorways so that it's the State coffers that are raking in the profits and not private companies like Benetton, or in cases where this is not possible, re-negotiate the conditions, eliminate political bureaucracy from companies with State ownership (even partial) where thousands of directors are prospering, nationalise Monte dei Paschi di Siena, eliminate every big useless public works project like the Tav in Val di Susa and Expo in Milan, drastically reduce the salaries and benefits paid to parliamentarians and people in every public position, cancel the mission in Afghanistan, stop the purchase of the F35 jets. I could go on and on. These measures cannot be taken by the current political class because they would cut through the branch of the tree that is holding them up.
This Parliament has not been elected by the Italian people, but by the parties and the lobbies. It cannot tackle a situation of national emergency, of a war economy, because it owes its allegiance to its masters and not to the citizens.
Thus I am asking you to force the repeal of the current electoral law as it is unconstitutional, to dissolve Parliament and have elections once more. Autumn is approaching and with it the probable collapse of the economy. The problems will see a transformation from political to social, and they will probably be uncontrollable. There's no time left. You have willingly carried great responsibility at a time when you could have and maybe should have rejected it. By now, you have become the shield, the lightning rod of the parties that have not known how to govern, how to reform themselves and who can be considered, at best, incompetent. This is not your task, which is to represent the interests of the Italian people." Beppe Grillo

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Makes a ton of sense (though more so in the light of what has previously been reported here) and always refreshing with someone who speaks truth to power.

A questio though:

European Tribune - The President meets the Clown

Thus I am asking you to force the repeal of the current electoral law as it is unconstitutional, to dissolve Parliament and have elections once more.

Under what electoral law would elections then be held?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Jul 14th, 2013 at 07:20:18 AM EST
You could argue that the law would revert to the status quo before the unconstitutional law.

Of course, his movement could just compromise with PD and make a new law. But then Grillo doesn't do compromise.

 

by IM on Sun Jul 14th, 2013 at 08:41:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Unfortunately, the law is not unconstitutional- only a part of it concerning the elections of Senators which was changed immediately in 2006[?]. The present law has therefore two different mechanisms for the elections of Senators and Deputies which can lead to different majorities in the two chambers. Since the two chambers are nearly carbon copies in their respective functions this leads to permanent conflict and redundancy.

A new reform would distribute different legislative prerogatives to the two chambers, the Senate focused on regional and inter-regional legislation, the chamber of deputies concerned with governance and national law.

The problem was the refusal of the constitutional court in January 2012, to allow a referendum to abrogate the law on the grounds that, were it to be abrogated, Italy would be without an electoral law. Other constitutionalists argued that, on the contrary, the system would have returned to status quo ante, the Mattarellum electoral law.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sun Jul 14th, 2013 at 06:03:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
de Gondi:
Other constitutionalists argued that, on the contrary, the system would have returned to status quo ante, the Mattarellum electoral law.

Why is this a binary choice? Is there really no better option than going backwards in this respect?

from piggery back to loony bin.... seriously?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Jul 14th, 2013 at 08:19:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A republic cannot be without an electoral law. The Court's decision is based on this principal. Critics don't challenge this thesis but argue that were the Porcellum abolished, the previous law would automatically go into effect. The Court deemed otherwise: were the law abrogated by popular referendum, there would be a constitutional void.

The Court's ruling simply throws the ball back to parliament, the political arena in which a new electoral law must be crafted. The President of the republic can do very little beyond exhorting parliament to act.

Given the actual state of affairs with a monstrous coalition and the lack of will to act, I don't see any electoral law in sight.

What Berlusconi wants is some demagogic act such as the abolishment of property taxes, the infamous IMU, so that he can claim credit and ride back into power.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Jul 15th, 2013 at 05:16:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
de Gondi:

The Court's ruling simply throws the ball back to parliament, the political arena in which a new electoral law must be crafted. The President of the republic can do very little beyond exhorting parliament to act.

Given the actual state of affairs with a monstrous coalition and the lack of will to act, I don't see any electoral law in sight.

this logjam reminds me of the filibuster impasse in the USA. gah...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jul 15th, 2013 at 06:48:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a bit different. The Democrats could easily change the filibuster rules if they wanted to.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Jul 15th, 2013 at 06:50:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But they could find themselves in a predicament the next time the Republicans have the majority.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Jul 15th, 2013 at 10:48:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No more than they do if they leave filibuster alone ... the Republicans can equally well abolish the filibuster with a simple majority vote, so retaining the Republican right to filibuster does nothing to protect a prospective future Democratic right to filibuster.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Jul 16th, 2013 at 08:56:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Given the glacial pace of the Italian legal system and the likelihood of challenges to any election that occurred after the President cancelled the present electoral law, (no matter how unconstitutional), it would seem that the only way to get a government in place that could respond in a timely fashion, as Grillo advocates, would be for 5* to make common ground with PD, at least on this one issue, and pass a new electoral law before this parliament is dissolved. Then, IF a reformist government is returned, they would be on much more solid ground from which to clean up Italian politics AND deal with The Troika.

This would seem a reasonably clear path to force changes to the Euro-zone favorable to the citizens of the Euro-zone and all of Europe. Italy could credibly threaten to unilaterally and even selectively default on its debt unless acceptable changes were implemented. Such a government could also bring  pressure on Spain and Portugal to join it and that might affect domestic politics in those countries in ways that would help a left oriented Euro-zone reform.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jul 14th, 2013 at 12:08:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
yes, yes and yes.

It's the international repercussions that dwarf the domestic ones. Italy is fulcral by virtue of the size of its economy, bang in the middle between the still-rich and the newly poor.

Someone has to precipitate either

  1. debt writedown or

  2. orderly default.

 Beppe has the coglioni to face down the Troika, he has proved that in spades by surviving the heavily engineered PTB media blitz excoriating him since the last elections, and the continuing, unrelenting momentum of his truth-to-power tirades.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Jul 14th, 2013 at 08:13:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Beppe Grillo's Blog
After February's national elections, I received official communications by letter or email followed by a telephone conversation with the ambassadors of the major countries. I observed the great curiosity they had for the M5S and their big worries for the future of Italy and the "domino effect" that a crisis in our country could bring about. Only one major country didn't ask for an official meeting: Germany. I'm convinced that that's just because they were distracted. In these discussions, I always emphasised the need for Italy to have greater sovereignty in relation to decisions relating to economic, military, and monetary matters. I doubt anyone has missed the point that today's Italy is ever more similar to Italy in the seventeenth century when the slogan of the time was "Franza o Spagna purché se magna" {Either France or Spain, as long as we can eat}. Substitute "France or Spain" with "Germany or the United States" and we find ourselves in the 21st century. The obsequious pilgrimage, made by those just installed as Italian prime minister (for instance Rigor Montis and Captain Findus Letta) to Mrs Merkel (and even by the eager "little idiot" of Florence), the one whose only credentials are that he won the Ruota della Fortuna {Wheel of Fortune} on TV, bring to mind the need experienced by the great Medieval feudal lords to receive the Pope's blessing. On their knees, kissing the sacred ring. "Gott mit uns". The economic interests of Germany and Italy have no longer coincided for some time, in fact since we joined the euro, that is in fact the Deutsche Mark in disguise. What's needed is a mediation, a discussion among equals, to find a way out of the current impasse, and not the continual genuflection of our politicians. We can no longer stay in the euro at these conditions if we want to maintain our system of production. Either we create eurobonds public bonds guaranteed by the ECB, to share out the "country risk" across the whole of the euro area, or our public debt has to be restructured. Basically invested capital has to be frozen or interest payments have to be renegotiated to provide a different time frame. Both these hypotheses are seen by Germany, that holds a large part of our public bonds, like a nettle rash, but tertium non datur {there's no other solution}. I see no other ways that will allow us to stay in the euro. We cannot die for Berlin, nor can we end up like Greece to please German interests and the ambitions of our politicians. Primum vivere {first we have to live}, with or without the euro.


'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Jul 14th, 2013 at 10:29:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The PD's recent choice to come to terms with the PDL's scandalous diktat to close parliament for three days has caused an uproar in public opinion. Some 60 PD deputies voted along with Berlusconi's party to suspend parliament for the rest of the day.

Italy's highest court, la Corte di Cassazione, had set the date to review one of Berlusconi's sentences before the statute of limitations nullified the guilty sentence the day following the scheduled hearing. According to Berlusconi's mouthpieces it's a coup d'etat, the usual codswallop about a devoted servant of the nation's interests being a victim of commie judges.

The average citizen is bearing the brunt of a crisis they did not bring about. They expect a reactive parliament and government to deal with it (an impossible task anyway) and the bullshit over Berlusconi's consolidated criminal activity is the last thing a parliament should worry about.

They made Grillo's day.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sun Jul 14th, 2013 at 06:37:03 PM EST
de Gondi:
The average citizen is bearing the brunt of a crisis they did not bring about. They expect a reactive parliament and government to deal with it (an impossible task anyway) and the bullshit over Berlusconi's consolidated criminal activity is the last thing a parliament should worry about.

What it reveals is the tentacular reach of B's power, due to his immense advertising income from interest-conflicted schlock media outlets and offshore shady tax avoidance deals.

On the left the old guard has many bodies buried of its own, so has a lot to lose with too much truth emerging. The new guard is 3rd-way Renzi, new bottle, same-ish wine. New bubbles, maybe, he shut down Ponte Vecchio in Florence to the public the other day for a Maserati ad. Voters wanting to split the difference between Grillo and Letta will find his feisty will-to-power and considerable gift of the gab seductive, especially, like the smooth pol he is, he manages to endorse some of M5's policies by seamless co-option while denigrating Grillo as unserious.

If Beppe hadn't resorted to such OTT rhetoric, had been less of a clown, there'd be a great chunk of the PD which may well swing for M5, but if Beppe had been lower-key, he may not have made into the national consciousness, catch 22.

So the gruesomely mediated self-dismemberment of the partitocrazia has to run its tragicomic course...

Another revelation is the unbuyability of the Italian magistrature, and a compelling example of why separation of powers is a civic sine qua non for democracy.

de Gondi:

They made Grillo's day.

That will/would come if his goal of redesigning Italy comes true. With the present course-for-chaos he stands poised to slide into a power vacuum.

Then people will decide whether he is just a one-eyed man in a land of the blind, or the closest to a real leader of change we have on offer.

Thanks for chiming in...
   

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Jul 14th, 2013 at 07:46:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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