Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Italy is not Ungovernable But Has Given the Wrong Answer to Europe's Elites

The scale and  complexity of the crisis Italy is sinking into is being underestimated both for Italy itself and for the European Union.  This is illuminated by the absence of President Napolitano on a visit to Germany that had been arranged when elections were expected next May, and was not cancelled because so great was the conviction that the Monti-Bersani axis would win comfortably.

Yesterday Mario Monti was still prime minister and was holding unscheduled meetings with the Governor of the Bank of Italy, the Minister of Finance, the Cabinet and, it is reasonable to presume, spoke to Mario Draghi.  The Head of State, interviewed in Munich, said he was still considering the results of the elections  and looking forward to listening to the Parties' reflections on the results. He added that it was not part of his duties to comment on electoral results.

Considering that the capitalisation of the Italian stock exchange fell by 17 billion euros yesterday, the spread is now over 350, yields on ten year bonds are over 490* [see update] we might expect to have someone   appointed Prime Minister and beginning negotiations with other parties to obtain votes of confidence in both Houses when the new Parliament meets.  It is astounding that even the lists of those elected are not yet confirmed.

Italy has voted perfectly clearly: no more austerity, lower taxes, the drastic reduction of the size of the state at every level of governance and, vehemently, for the removal of Mario Monti from office.  And what have we got?  Mario Monti still prime minister, the Head of State out of the country, and a proto-communist pretending to being a negotiator of first resort with neither mandate nor electorally-conferred authority.

When the markets wake up fully to the levels of conflict between the elites and the vote of the people, and the unmarked routes to any resolution of these conflicts, Italy's debt and her borrowing costs will result in Germany going towards elections with Italy going towards default.

4 billion euros of ten year bonds taken this morning at 4.83%; risen from 4.17% in January, and the highest since last October. 


Weekend Yachtsman said...

This is all very interesting (in the Chinese sense).

What are the chances, I wonder, that Europe's Elites (actually the EU's elites) will find a way to impose a Prime Minister of their choosing on Italy?

You will say it's impossible, but they managed it before - with a Constitutional fig leaf as you pointed out more than once - and they will certainly be desperate to try.

The Project must go on, after all.

Do keep us all posted, your informed inside view is much appreciated.

hatfield girl said...

It's very kind to say so, Yacht.

The number of strands to the Great Refusal by the Italian electorate make it hard to measure how revolutionary was their vote.

Consider the numbers of MPs both Senators and Deputies with strong ecological credentials and commitments, both in the 5 Star and the in the Democratic senior coalition party SEL (the E stands for ecology) all of them radicals of various older political categorisations. Then consider the EU/US trade deal and its importance to the Elites (there's an excellent article in today's Der Spiegel). How are the EU elites going to digest an Italian parliament rejecting that? And it will, it will, in its current manifestation.

Consider the actions and self-assumed role of the current Head of State (I acknowledge that you have pointed out many times the virtues of the UK's arrangements) but in Napolitano we have a known unknown capable of anything in the pursuit of his ideology and agenda - a mellifluous elitist who, I suspect, intends to stay in office if he can, despite assurances that is not his intention. A single-handed re-maker of the letter and the spirit of Italy's constitution.

We have the fragmenting of the Democratic Party's internal coalition - Renzi hasn't said a word but his people are elected and will vote in the Parliament. Renzi centrists are really cross about Bersani and his ways, and his apparatchiks, and his stupidity and theirs (you may have noticed).

I could go on but......