Monday, 10 December 2012

The Real Enemy is not the European Union or its Currency

The 30%  of Italians who are lower-middle and working class people are frightened of the economic constraints they are living under.  The next 30% fear they too will be degraded by a sort of 'proletariatisation'  (una sorta di proletarizzazione Scalfari calls it in La Repubblica) with the continued declines in some older sectors  of the Italian economy, reports  the Italian Socioeconomic Research Institute, Censis.  It states further that this fear should lift gradually in the next few months as the Italian economy displays consistent improvement and growth.

Monti's administration has stabilised the outlook for growth in the region, reduced  the capital outflows, attracted inward investment again,  and advanced the shift in European policies from austerity and debt reduction to investment and growth in the modern economy.  Berlusconi saw his chances of re-establishing himself slipping away, particularly when there was the chance that the centre Left might also be led by a reasonable and centrist politician. 

However, with the reassertion of the Left as defender of worn-out industries, worn-out ideologies and the   entrenched and privileged groups of unionised workers and pensioners (the very proletariat working people feared they might fall back into) he has taken his chance and chosen aggressively  anti-Europe, anti-Euro, anti-taxes, anti-institutional reform, anti-Napolitano, anti-Monti and everything he stands for, policies to appeal to the people delineated by the Censis.

These are not moderate positions that Berlusconi adopts, nor could they remotely be described as centrist or of the majority of the electorate.   They are the views of the disaffected, the poorly informed,  the disenchanted  clustered round Beppe Grillo and his 5 Star no-parties party.  But they are so more dangerous in Berlusconi''s hands because of his resources and outstanding political skills. 

Matteo Renzi, the Florence mayor whose attempt to drag the 'Democratic' party into the 21st century and democratic relevance was destroyed last week is now a man with an electorate but without a party (Berlusconi's invitation to join him at any time in his political last fling -' la porta e sempre aperta' -  has been met with  a flat, if elegantly phrased, rejection).   Mario Monti is another with an electorate but no party.  So we are in the faintly ridiculous position, though none the less dangerous for that, of Berlusconi  and Bersani claiming to be the leadership contestants for Right and Left,  and Monti and Renzi commanding the votes of Right and (non-communist) Left.

Those who think to use this stand-off in Italian politics as an argument for dismantling the Euro or even the European Union, have misunderstood its essential political nature.  What is at stake here is the rejection of the West's largest communist survivor movement, and equally the rejection of the bedrock of Europe's grey and black criminal economies.   Before welcoming the success of either as a means to beat on a European Union that, for all its faults, is less loathsome than either 'progessivism' or 'gangsterism ' they might consider the weapons with which it is legitimate to pursue their anti-Europeanism. 

The spread is now at 360, the yield at 4.87.   


Weekend Yachtsman said...

In today's DT Ambrose Evans-Pritchard states (with references) that the fundamentals of the Italian economy are very sound indeed, and the only problem is that Italy is in the wrong currency. It seems a convincing argument.

Have you read it? Is he talking through his hat?

hatfield girl said...

Wouldn't dream of commenting on A E-P's economics, Yacht. I would say that Angels has long sustained that Italy has political not economic problems.

Italy is a founder member and net contributor to the EU. It is more than committed to the EU, its politicians and politico/academics had a primary role in setting the EU and then the Euro in place and keeping it running. I've often thought the complaints about the Euro's form and preparation result from a very Italian approach to design and implementation.

There, they say, isn't that beautiful? It does 240 k an hour and looks wonderful. What if there are few roads, no markings, no traffic police - we can do those later. Ask the Germans - they do good bossing about.

So the Euro roars off and keeps going for years before it has a problem. And that's the Germans' fault.

Much of the Italian economy has low (not to say non-existent) taxes, light (if threatening, you toucha my car....) regulation, and its only problem is the public sector, which they left to keep the Communist party quiet and give it something to play with after Prodi de-nationalised all the profitable sectors.

Italy's problem is confining the PCI and its useful idiots to their political playpen. And keeping a beautiful, clean face turned to the world, which it can't with Berlusconi. Monti hasn't done much you know - just been not-Berlusconi and not-the-PCI. We'd rather like to keep him, so now we have to find a way.