Friday, December 13

Italian Politics: The Party's Over

As we get ready to ring in a New Year, I can't help but think how much I have to be grateful for as the year in Italy, at least, has been winding to an end (though it feels a bit more like it's been sliding into home base after a hit with bases loaded).  The last few weeks have been rough and tumble at best, but there's been great - no, grandissima - cause for celebration.
Berlusconi getting ready to (try) & get some tail --
now, don't forget the little blue pills!
First, the Senate voted to remove Silvio Berlusconi from their cozy citadel of comfy perks including the most significant one, immunity from prosecution. I've been relishing his  blustering ever since which, at first reminded me of the Wizard of Oz at the moment Toto pulled away the curtain. Nowadays, he's starting to remind me of Elmer Fudd (fittingly, in this episode, he shouts, "The long arm of the law is weaching out & closing in on you!"  So much so, I wish media outlets would put the gag order in effect.  If they'd just stop reporting his bullshit, maybe, he'd finally go away.  Pay no attention to that man hiding behind the mask of makeup &amp hair plugs!

Next, Prime Minister Letta announced that govt financing of (the hundreds) of political parties would finally be put to an end.  It is one of the largest and most efficient 'industries' in Italy -- that of plainly milking funds.  Hang your shingle out under the guise of 'political party' and you're open for business.  Whoever said that government didn't work?  I rejoice in silence while waiting to see the fifteen hundred new avenues the parties will come up with to get their money back [My guess?  Submitting sandwich & espresso receipts in the millions].  I mean, these are the same people who were discovered printing zillions of bus tickets and selling them (Not that I would can't find a bus ticket within a 1 mile radius of my house).
For the record, the last time these parties got their financing pulled (for urgent expenditures going toward villas - parties - vacations - you name it), by virtue of a wild public referendum, the politicians simply renamed the expense ledger.  For years, this act of sheer chutzpah has been festering like a boil -- and was one of the main reasons by my guess that put Mr. Grillo into power.  It is a symbol of all govt waste, like Imelda Marcos and her infamous shoe collection.  Mr. Letta & Co., realize they have got to cut it loose.  Let's see if it really happens this time.

But then, the best news of all.  Youthful Matteo Renzi, the dynamic Mayor of Florence, was finally elected by a virtual landslide to head up the Democratic Party (of the left).  In many circles (on the left) he is vilified.  I don't know why, exactly, perhaps seen as yet another political hack, or not red enough.  And I don't care.  He is half the mean age of these joker power brokers and, he hand-picked 7 women on his 'cabinet' out of 12 spots.  Talk about a sea change.  This staff has an average age of 35.  At that age, they still haven't been in politics long enough to figure out how to stash away fistfuls of bribes in suitcases. Yet.  I was hopeful about the woman at the helm of the Latium Region - But then she was caught handing out high-paid positions as if she were the head of Goldman Sachs on coke.  If this dream team can figure out how to win: Without pocketing the 45 Million euro in their coffers for party financing (gifted by the hard-working proletariat) / Keep it all clean / And actually do something to improve this country, it will be a New Year after all.  

*some live links above

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