Friday, 22 June 2012

Italy is Not What It Used to Be

The constant referral to Italy's 'technical' government is damaging understanding of  the European Union crisis.  One of the prerequisites for acceptance of the President's invitation to form an administration was that a Monti administration would be  fully political and extend into all fields of government.  Its mandate would confirm just that; it would not be  limited to an economic and financial turn-round.

In truth, an economic and financial turn-round was not the problem, as Ambrose Evans- Pritchard  now acknowledges:

'The country is clearly not a basket case on any measure.  It will have a primary budget surplus of 3.6pc of GDP this year, and 4.9pc next year, the best in the G7 bloc.  Combined public and private debt is 260pc of GDP, similar to Germany and much lower than France, Spain, or the UK. With private wealth of €8.6 trillion, Italians are richer per capita than Germans.  Italy scores top on the IMF's long-term debt sustainability indicator at 4.1, ahead of Germany 4.6, France 7.9, the UK 13.3, Japan 14.3, and the US 17.'

The Prime Minister is coping with a double-headed monster: the bloated, corrupt political elites so intricately entwined with the geo-political gangster criminality over which the state itself can barely retain control; and, what the core nations fear most, 'the creation of an uncapped transfer union without surrender of national sovereignty to the supranational European level' as   Willem Buiter so felicitously encapsulates the European-level core nations dilemma.
 It is not by chance that it is in Rome that the core nations meet today.  Italy must call on Europe's strength to defeat its own monsters  - the creation by an unholy alliance of the trade union-based 'left',  the populist gangsterista 'right,' and a naive anarchist protest vote of a pretext to pull down the administration before the end of the Legislature as Monti threatens their fiefdoms and their privileges. The European Union needs to call upon Italy's strength as a highly advanced, innovative, entrepreneurial economy; but this must be voiced through growth and financial measures that preserve and enhance it.

To do what Monti is doing demands high-level intellectual and professional skills,  a clear grasp of political strengths and political forces operating here and in Europe, an ethical stance that sets his aims against those of powerful national (and international) corruption; and considerable physical bravery.  To daub him (and the constitutional authority from which he derives his power) as 'technical' and "unelected'  denies him, and all his policies the validity which they  deserve.  Worse, it warps perception of Italy's  real 21st century status and, in so doing, damages the European Union in its entirety.

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