Tuesday, February 26

Apocalypto, Italian Style

As Mario Monti started embarking on his reform program and austerity measures last year, everyone from the left and from the right in Parliament were turning apoplectic, as was the general populace, I might add.  He said it meant that he must be doing something right.  And I for one agreed.  
Italy's elections may have left it a country divided (this time, in three equal parts, Left / Right / and the 'NO' Party), but they proved they could unite all of Italy -- It seems everyone is totally upset over their horse barely stumbling over the finish line. And commentators the world over are making dire pronouncements over the 'grande apocalypse' toward which this election outcome seems to be careening recklessly.
In my humble opinion (and with my self-confessed low knowledge of Italian parliamentary procedure), I think overall, this election result is a good thing.  "Italy is ungovernable" - "Italy in gridlock"...and so on.  Really?  The U.S. system practically counts on having one party in one place, with another in charge of Congress and the Senate.  And we know what happens when one party runs all three branches of government [...two wars, torture, the Patriot act...are on my radar.]  Back in Italy, do analysts really believe that a Berlusconi win heralding in a(nother) rubber-stamp Parliament alà Mussolini is better for the country?  Here are a few more of my thoughts on the subject:
  • Italy has been moving ever so closely to a two-party system.  They are now down to three.  If only the USA could be so fortunate.
  • Maybe if they know their party might not have enough influence, politicians may actually now be forced to show up for the votes.  And, instead of horse trading along party lines, what if...politicians actually represented their constituents and now voted with their brains (It would be a stretch to ask them to vote with their hearts) - Naturally, their pocketbooks (like the U.S. system of legalized bribery, lobbying) will never be out of the picture.
  • Since the two predominant parties failed in their majority, maybe they should try picking up a few pointers from the party of NO and start employing real reforms: Halving their salaries, removing  perks, halving the number of parliamentarians, taking the criminals out of parliament (which is why Beppe Grillo did not run himself-he has a manslaughter indictment against him) and the removal of pensions for all government reps until they actually reach retirement age (starting with those in arrears, say to 1979).
  • If Berlusconi had a clear win, he'd get his 'Get out of Jail Card' as his first act in office.  He wants to pay back the IMU Tax and employ other reckless measures including another building amnesty - which would wreak havoc on the economy, just as the rest of his ad personam laws do.  Do people really think Italy's in a better place when one party takes all? (and, in the case of media magnate Berlusconi and his cronies...there's more truth to that phrase than ever before).
  • If Bersani had won, although being somewhat of a reformer, we'd see no reforms and people getting jobs right, left and center even in places where there is no work.  Is that going to breathe life into Italy's economy?  (Although one could make the case for government spending to lift the economy out of recession...)
  • If Grillo's M5S Party gets the Big Win, of course, then his party is going by the seat-of-the-pants -- with no agenda to speak of [Here's a thoughtful review of his 20 main points].  I disagree, however, that a Grillo win is the "downfall of democracy" as Bersani put it.  Really?  People making their voices heard is the very definition of democracy.
  • And thankfully, we still have 77 yr old Silvio in our house to laugh at, now with his hottie 'fiancè' extra brought in for photo opps - 50 years his junior - on his arm (when he's not holding Bunga Bunga parties, I presume).  Because if I had to spend the next few years looking at his miserable protégé, Alfano, my eyes would start to bleed.
I am not the first one to say this, and certainly not the last:  But Italy has always worked DESPITE it's governments, not because of them.  You may recall 60 governments in as almost as many years.  This is due to the hard work, dedication, enterprising mentality, and of course, tax paying by the majority of honest Italians.  Too bad they are not the ones running the country.
- Keep Calm AND Pack Your Bags -


Dave514 said...

Italy is an idea that is yet to be manifest.

Somebody said...

In the interest of accuracy the Afghan war resolution, Iraq war resolution and the Patriot Act all passed in a DEMOCRAT controlled Senate with strong Democrat support. And, three terrorists were waterboarded before Bush banned the practice.

Irreverent Italy said...

Thank you, Somebody for the correction - I will amend my post (I still don't agree with full-on one-party branches of govt, however-regardless of the color -- Italians find the concept very strange indeed, however. They think it's the only way to get things done - they may be right.)