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.
UC Irvine's Penelope Maddy interviewed...
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