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Another couple of things. They are fanatical about rule of law, praising and urging more funding for the police and secret service but not the military. This gave me pause, a bit of a red flag of traditional rightist rhetoric. (Meanwhile Salvini is encouraging Italians to arm themselves to repel immigrant invaders...)
I came to peace with it because of two reasons. One is the cops really are underfunded, so much so that they pay for their own gas for cars, have outdated equipment and apparently are even short of office supplies.
Cops have not been in the news for excessive force, cruelty or false arrests recently, we are a long way from Genoa G8, when they went on a sadistic rampage under Fini's control under a Berlusconi government. They have a better profile now and in my experiences with them in rural Appennini have been generally positive. Very low profile, little overt authoritarianism.
MV5* have been accused of being dictatorial within their own party, initially expelling members for even being under investigation as they want an unblemished roster of candidates who all stay on track with their precepts. To give you some contrast here just in the last election the PD had 29 candidates and the RW coalition 21 who were indicted, on trial or with criminal records. Naturally they saw an opportunity to criticise the movement for excessive party discipline and standards too high for politics.
In a country famed for corruption this marked them out distinctly, and their main rallying cry chanted at rallies is 'Onestà, onestà'.
They have unbent a bit since and as long as there is no damning evidence of crime before trial they will wait until judgement, but their ruthlessness in cleaning their own house is much appreciated by a public weary of the status quo. In this last batch they blond two candidates had Masonic ties and were smartly escorted out back into oblivion.They even expelled a mayor well loved in his town because he compromised on building an incinerator and thus betrayed the ecological ideals of the movement. He was revoted in anyway and is apparently otherwise doing good work as an independent.
All their mayors inherited chaotic, debt-ridden treasuries and impressively went immediately to work hiring and firing to cut costs, usually getting acounts into the black quite early in their terms in office.
Virginia Raggi, the (first) female mayor of Rome has been media lynched continuously for not solving all the city's decades-old problems created by previous left and right misgovernments overnight. Rubbish, wild pigs and rats featured heavily in front press pages with screaming headlines about her terrible incompetence. She has borne her role with great poise and dignity, doing much for the city in one year. The rubbish and transport sectors were completely under mob control and she has cleaned them both up. Chiara Appendino, the 5* mayoress of Turin has likewise balanced the municipal coffers and also won 'Most popular mayor in Italy award' after a year in office.
So the charge of incompetence whipped up by the media (and sadly believed by much of the public for a while) is losing potency as they chalk up more experience and gather ever more support.
They know that if they want to succeed in lowering corruption they have to be squeaky clean themselves, and so far few candidates have strayed from the straight and narrow, and when they did were immediately expelled from the movement. Growth has been so fast they need to learn to better discriminate sometimes. This temptation for rascals to ride the political wave of change to slip into the movement, but most of the candidates are seasoned activists in their areas. Another rule they have is that candidates must live and work in the area where they seek the vote, which makes for much greater accountability. The other parties parachute their people into places far away from where they are known too well and they can fall upwards to the party's content. A prime example is the PD minister Maria Elena Boschi, enmeshed n a banking scandal that involves her father and brother and made her loathed in her home town of Arezzo because so many people there lost their savings in the last  (of many Renzi-decreed) bail-ins. She has lied about her interference in the matter as it is completely out of her bailiwick as she was not finance minister.
Grillo'sometime erratic and irascible presence is fading into the past though he still retains enormous affection and pride for what has been achieved. He has 'retired' from leading and is there if needed only.
The baton is firmly passed to the youger generation now, and he is happy as a clam with his brainchild (along with Web guru Roberto Casaleggio) started only seven scandal-filled years ago.
As I see it they are left of the PD but avoid both the academicised intellectual baggage and bourgeois knee-jerk liberalism of the old pseudo socialist limo left like the plague. They claim to be post-ideological, taking sheets from both sides' hymn books as -and only if- they please and thus creating a democratic alternative to both centre left and right.
This is a thin tightrope to walk. As they grow they will encounter new and possibly unseen challenges as Italian politics is full of wily old wolves with Phds in Machiavellismo.
Italians are waking up from the limbo of resigned fatalism in which they have been wallowing till recently. While things are still tough and often tragic here since Italy has the lowest growth in the EU and the highest debt, the rich-poor gap is widening and only a few are feeling the meagre updraft of a GDP growth of less than 2%, even with low oil prices and Draghi's QE cheap money.
The candidate for Economy minister is a very progressive Keynesian and will give a good rattle to the Euro cage if placed in office.
Now for turning this roadblock of Salvini into just a speedbump...
Five fingers crossed for Mattarella to make the correct decision.


'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 Thu Mar 8th, 2018 at 02:15:45 AM EST
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