I have received several e-mails over the last weeks asking me to comment on the current situation in Italy, of which some specifically requiring to provide my point of view.
Readers who follow me know I don’t like to follow and comment on events as they happen. I always wait a little to understand how things may unfold. Such a prudent approach is most required when Italian politics is at stake.
Very briefly, let me recap the events of the last 60 days or so.
Italy has celebrated its general elections on 24–25 February 2013. The Centre-left coalition led by Pierluigi Bersani slightly prevailed on Berlusconi-led Centre-right coalition. However, it was the Five-star Movement (M5S) inspired by former comedian Beppe Grillo which has taken the lion’s share with its 25% or so of votes. Even with the majority bonus, Bersani has been unable to form a government so far, given the staunch opposition of Berlusconi’s and – above all – Grillo’s coalitions.
On the top of that, the President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano has come at the end of his 7-year mandate and the political game is now being played at this table, as in Italy it is the Parliament in joint session that elects the President (election explained @ Wikipedia). No quorum will be reached, however, as long as the several political positions have not been reconciled.
Even strong candidates have not passed the ballot test, among whom Franco Marini (Former Speaker of the Senate), and the economist and two-time Prime Minister Romano Prodi. And it is precisely Prodi’s rejection by the hand of 101 “hawks” in the Democratic Party that led Bersani and Bindi (DP’s Secretary and President, respectively) to resign yesterday.
The real problem is – as many point out – that the Italian (supposed) leaders have been unable to form a Government so far, and they are showing no willingness to vote for a presidential candidate who offers little or no guarantees, nor what we may call a suitable “return on investment”, so to speak.
The major point the M5S makes has been raising since the electoral campaign begun is that the current generation of politicians has been overcome by events, and “must go home”. The current standstill on the presidential vote adds to that, and Grillo said yesterday that the last elections have already “led to the demise of 5 parties”.
The life of ordinary citizens in Italy is heavily impacted by the economic crisis and this not new. Resentment is growing, however, as people can feel and observe the incapacity of parties to find a common position for the good of the Nation, instead of their self-interest. Media reports and surveys suggest the level of confidence enjoyed by political representatives has reached an all time low, and citizens are tired of inability in a country where fiscal pressure reached 43% and 63% for individual employees and businesses, respectively. For those who don’t know, Italian National Police has not had a Chief for the last thirty days. Prefect Antonio Manganelli – who died from cancer on March, 20th – has not been replaced yet, with the Deputy Chief acting on his behalf since then. Unofficial reports say a government should be formed before a new Chief is appointed.
There is a point, however, no one dares to challenge. All authors, journalists, commentators concur that a similar standstill is unprecedented in the history of the Italian Republic. In fact, there are examples of presidential elections in the past that required “some time”, to say the least. In 1971, President Leone was elected after 23 ballots, but in no case Italy has – at the same time – been without a more or less strong majority in the Parliament, groped about the election of its President, apparently without a sound Government in office, and in the middle of an economic crisis that still bites.
What in your opinion are the weak points Italy is showing?
What is your solution to the Italian standstill?
Who is your favourite Presidential Candidate and Prime Minister?
Comment or take the poll!