The Italian Mind

Reflections from the Boot

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The Knight Strikes Back: Episode VI

knight strikes backYou didn’t see it coming, uh?

One of the best strategists Italy has ever had has planned this thoroughly since 2011.
Silvio Berlusconi was still the Prime Minister of Italy when he realised the huge parliamentary majority he had obtained at the political elections in 2008 was everything but intact. The harsh divorce between Berlusconi and Fini, now Speaker of the House, with the latter leaving the Party of Liberties to found the ‘Future and Freedom for Italy’ Party, marked the beginning of the political demise of the then Prime Minister, an office he had hold for four of the five times he has run as a candidate. Or at least this is what many thought.

Confronted with a majority of one single vote, involved in many sex scandals, and hunted down by the Judiciary on multiple counts, the only wise move Mr. B could make was to step down as Prime Minister.
At the end of the day, he knew he couldn’t possibly lead the Country to fulfill the challenges and commitments he had taken with Europe. His line of thought was simple: “I take a step back before I lose a confidence vote. Mr. Monti will be appointed as Prime Minister. He’s a smart guy, one who can fix things quickly and easily. Of course, in order to do that, he can only raise taxes, but this is not a problem (for me). We can blame him later for that. Once the State budget is back on track, I can step forward again and exploit social resentment“.

Pretty simple, isn’t it?
I must say that, from a certain point of view, I admire the guy. I mean, he is such an impudent, shameless person, but has ideas. I don’t want to sound rhetorical, but Italy would be one of the most competitive countries in the world if only such evil minds would serve the common interest before their own.

So, what is Mr.B’s plan for the electoral campaign?

Naively, he thinks Italians have already forgot what the last 20 years have borne in terms of credibility of the country abroad, public debt, privileges for circles of people closer to him, scandals, you name it. But they have not. The feeling of disaffection versus politics in general and politicians at large is strong, and grows as much as the gap between these and ordinary people widens. So here’s the magic recipe: 90% of candidates in the lists of the People of Liberties should be unknown to the general public.

keep-calm-and-don-t-vote-for-him-17

A person whom you can potentially trust is better than the widely known faces people have learned not to. Will this be enough? Recently, I was sent a funny sign of the “keep calm” type, suggesting not to vote for Berlusconi.
Conversely, a survey a remarkable weekly talk show (Ballarò) conducts reveals Mr.B’s party gained between 1.5% and 2% of votes in one week thus reaching 15%, just because he announced he will lead his party as a candidate Prime Minister (for the sixth time). With about three months to go before the elections, this may well account for a 12%-15% increase, which would bring the party share to 28%-30%, indeed not very far from where it was in 2008. Notwithstanding it may not be enough to win the elections, a similar result would definitely qualify him as the leader of a strong opposition. On the top of that, the ability of the ‘Cavaliere’ (*) to attract people to the dark…ehm sorry…to the blue side (**) is renown, thus diluting an apparently wide centre-left majority over time. Will this be the revenge of the sixth (time)?

What do you think the reaction of Italians will be?
Does Berlusconi deserve any trust?
Would you vote for him?

Please comment below.

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(*) ‘Cavaliere’ is the Italian word for ‘knight’. Given his remarkable and undeniable business skills in the field of estate building, Berlusconi was awarded the title of Knight of the Order of Merit for Labour in 1997 and is most commonly known as ‘Il Cavaliere’ (the Knight).

(**) Blue is the colour of the People of Liberties

Will Italy Overcome the Crisis and Make it to Next Year Elections?

Italy’s spending cuts are at the heart of reforms

“Recession in Italy is close to an end and the euro zone must not represent a source of friction amongst northern and southern Europe”, the Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said recently at a conference in Rimini. He also added that the euro zone’s third largest economy is in better shape than it was actually a year ago.
Since taking over from Silvio Berlusconi, Monti has triggered a programme of reforms, including strong overhauls on the labour market and pension, spending cuts and deregulation. Monti said the government would not expected such reforms to stimulate the growth of a heavily-hit economy in the short term. Instead, he explained he had hoped the falling of borrowing costs would make it simpler for recovery to commence.
Monti also repeated once again he is concerned for the tensions arisen among northern and southern European countries in the euro zone, and the Union is endevouring to resolve its recession and preserve the single currency.
“It would be tragic – he said- if the euro, the highest form of European aspiration to integration and unity turned out to be a factor of disintegration, and the cause for prejudices, of north standing against south”.
Internally, Monti has underlined once ahgain that budget-rigour goal is instrumental to the growth of public finances. The Government will focus on debt reduction and asset sales among the coming months as it puts together measures to raise competition, put an end to energy costs and support start-up companies. Monti, who imposed austerity in the initial half of his 18-month term, is asking his ministers to draft policies in order to pull Italy out of its fourth recession in almost ten years. He is well known as one who jumped in in Italy’s deficit with both feet and lowered money borrowing costs thanks to a program that included tax increases on fuel, real estate and luxury goods, all vastly unpopular among the population. The Minister for Economic Development, Corrado Passera – however – didn’t say whenever the new government measures to promote the economy could be finalised.

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