Wednesday, 30 January 2013

If This is a Bank

The Monte dei Paschi di Siena  ended its dead cat bounce today, falling over 9%.  The presentation to a recalled Parliament by the Treasury Minister Grilli stated that even for technical reasons the Bank could not be put into receivership, not least because it is solvent.  And so it should be after being handed (or being about to be handed) 4 billion  euros of our money.

Not enough.  A bank is not considered a bank just because it is technically solvent.  Today not only the past management of the Bank was under investigation but the Bank itself.

"The credit institution has been accused of bearing  administrative responsibility, as established by  legislative decree number 231 of 2001. Such an accusation, which refers to what happened under the previous management, is significant,  considering that usually it covers particularly serious crimes amongst  which are: corruption; undue receipt of public monies; fraud against the state; illegal distribution of profits; and obstruction of the exercise of  public vigilance."
[L’istituto è stato iscritto per responsabilità amministrativa, secondo quanto stabilito dal decreto legislativo 231 del 2001. L’iscrizione, che fa riferimento a quanto avvenuto durante la gestione del precedente management, è significativa in quanto solitamente prevista per reati particolarmente pesanti tra cui corruzione, indebita percezione di erogazioni pubbliche, truffa ai danni dello Stato, illegale ripartizione degli utili e ostacolo all’esercizio della funzione di pubblica vigilanza.]

reports Il Fatto Quotidiano.

The magistrates of Siena are not the only magistrates investigating this institution.  They have described the situation as "incandescent".  Milan and Trani have also opened investigations.

If this is a bank Angels would rather keep the money under the mattress.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Monte dei Paschi Billions Mount Up

The Monte dei Paschi grows more ugly (for any English person so very familiarly ugly) by the day.  And it is its recent days, not its 500 year history, that matters now;  the last half century, not the last half millennium.  Since the Second world war the Monte dei Paschi has been wholly in the control of the hard Left currently masquerading as the Democratic Party.

Undoubtedly other institutional players have benefitted from the iron grasp of the Left on central Italy, a grip enabled and reinforced by control of the Bank.  No entity exists in a vacuum but survives and grows by exchange:  exchange of favours, exchange of secrets, exchange of personnel, exchange, above all, of guilt.  So it is fairly easy now for the Left to do the pointy finger at others - Church, political parties or factions within them, individuals - united in guilt.

Still there remains the reality: the post-Second world war Monte dei Paschi has been the cash cow and creature of the Left (centrally important after the collapse of realised socialism and the end of the enormous subsidies paid from the USSR);  this is the Treasury of the state within the state.

The Bank has been under scrutiny by the Bank of Italy since at least 2008, when Mario Draghi as Governor of the Bank of Italy, was cleaning up the pale copies of the Siena model repeated in local governments and petty financial institutions all over Italy.  So important (and self-important) was Siena that it simply lied when asked for information.  And continued to buy complicity, not from those whose duty it was to secure financial affairs, but from those who could profit from remaining silent.

Effectively, with the requirement to accept government bail-out, the entire Siena structure is being silently nationalised.    But dealing with the funding of democratically unpopular factions within coalition parties, that succeed in imposing themselves upon entire political movements, may be in safe hands only temporarily.  If Bersani and his apparatchiks manage to impose themselves upon us at the end of February they will have control of the Italian Treasury - and Siena will become irrelevant.  

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Christians and Lions: Bersani Threatens to Tear Us Limb from Limb

Sbranare, verb, transitive - to rend, to tear off limbs, to rip open.

The faction controlling the Italian Democratic party has descended from politics into threats against the electorate and, specifically, those who pin down their co-involvement in the Monte dei Paschi bank scandals.   The whole country fell about laughing when Bersani and D'Alema tried to pretend, and then argue, that the Party's relationships with banks, particularly localised banks, is not of central interest in an election turning on  the effects of the financial crisis on employment, growth and living standards.

Prime Minister Mario Monti's 'ascent into politics' is now mirrored by this descent into unheard of aggression and promised violence towards the voters, the media and the regulatory authorities.  And by the descent of the Democratic party polling lead by a couple of points in the last 48 hours.

If anything is being sbranato  it is the veil over Democratic Party/ bank relations.  The Monte dei Paschi  affair has already completely over-shadowed the set-piece presentation of the Party Five Year Plan (yes, Angels knows we are not in the USSR in 1928, but the CGIL - the Italian General Confederation of Labour  - doesn't; 600 pages of central planning  regurgitated thudded onto desks in Rome this week) and ruined CGIL Leader Camusso's (the Bessie Braddock of Italian politics) harangue on Friday.

We are going off the rails again, Bersani barks at us.  We're supposed to be discussing the Party and Union Plan for all our futures;  and if it isn't 1928 in the USSR it ought to be and just wait until they get their hands on power at the end of February.  Once again Silvio Berlusconi spoke the simple political truth:

"The Left can't even run a bank, let alone a country.  The pressing requirement is to secure the interests of the Bank and its shareholders and customers.  Blame can be sorted out later."

Worse, the Prime Minister has remarked that nationalising the Monte dei Paschi probably won't be necessary.   Between the government and regulatory authorities  enough has been done to save it and other banks and credit institutions and municipalities from the Left and their financial behaviour.  Mario Draghi, then Governor of the Bank of Italy, put his foot down very hard on the Monte dei Paschi behaviour elsewhere in the Peninsula in 2007/8.

The crude attempt to threaten further by dragging the conduct of the Bank of Italy and the Treasury into disrepute has been dealt with by President Napolitano.    They must fear greatly that the Monte dei Paschi will have independent commissioners sent in to run it for they are demanding commissioners' powers for the current  Bank administration, which the Democratic party admits it helped to instal.  "Don't you dare touch the current Managers," warned the Party economics spokesman, Fassina (who has a proto-communist political past as well).

"There are forces in this country that will do anything to prevent us gaining power," joined in Massimo D'Alema, former prime minister of the centre left after Prodi stepped down in 2008 (and former leader of the Democratic Socialists, successors to the PCI, the Italian Communist Party, faction of the Democratic party in its Prodi manifestation) hinting at extra-democratic elites and shadowy groupings.    Which may or may not be so, but the only Party, the only Leader of a large political grouping in any nation state in which I have been a voter, to tell me I'll be torn apart if   his Party is attacked and fails to gain power, is  the Partito Democratico Italiano.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

A Tax on All Our Houses to Pay for Political Client Creation

After the appalling revelations of what the Democratic Party has been up to at the Monte dei Paschi their leader,  Bersani,  has explained that the Foundation that controls the bank (and is in turn controlled by Democratic party councillors elected in the city of Siena and its province) is not the Democratic party, and hasn't done anything anyway: a big boy did it and ran away.

The Italian prime minister has called for the unravelling of political party and banking ties, not just in Italy but throughout Europe (a supra-national banking authority should do it).  He added that of course the Democratic Party and its functionaries are responsible for the Monte dei Paschi scandal.

Shareholders, social partners and stake-holders all voted yesterday for a tax-payer funded bailout (whatever happened to shareholders taking the hit?  Northern Rock,  its surrounding circumstances and Labour party bail-out have a lot to answer for as exemplars of political chicanery) and we look at the enormous bills coming in on our property, even the perfectly ordinary property of perfectly ordinary people, charged even before the bail-out is in place, to raise the four billion euros for the Democratic Party's cat's-paw bank.

It is disingenuous of Mario Monti to deny the link between property taxes already visited on us all (denounced  by the European Union as unfair) and this bank's second bail-out just because the tax-rise occurred before the acceptance of these bail-out conditions.  But it is downright dishonest of Bersani and his faction to deny that communists, and now proto-communists, have been running Siena and using its wealth for their own nefarious purposes  for generations.

Apart from Antonveneta where has all the rest of what these kind of people persist in regarding as social capital, gone?

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Total Corruption

We all know about the mafia, or at least we all know it's there and doesn't go away nor feel in the least ashamed of itself; it's just a pre-democratic form of political organisation, a primitive governance system.  There's a lot of it about here, defined as criminal by the modern nation state.

And then there's the Left who champion the state and believe themselves to occupy the high, ethical and moral ground of modern post democratic managed governance, with a wholly uncriminalised status. As Bersani assured us, "per l'amor di dio",  not them,  not corrupt, they are good people.

So what's going on at the Monte dei Paschi, and what has been going on for decades is nothing to do with Bersani and his Partito Democratico.  He has told us all so,  and we are all supposed to agree because it is the Right and the mafia that is corruptly and deeply intertwined and has no claim to be the managers of modern post-democratic governance.

Except that the Monte dei Paschi is run by a Foundation whose membership is appointed by the Council and the Provincial government of Siena.  Both the city council and the provincial government of Siena have been a fiefdom of the communist Left, and its current incarnation as the Bersani faction of the Democratic Party,  for half a century. Half a century (which isn't long by Monti dei Paschi standards but it is by ours)  under their total control.

There is between three quarters of a billion and over 3 billion euros sloshing about between the Bank and its beneficiaries which has had to be covered by guarantees from the Treasury; that's us, our taxes, our living standards so compromised by a tax burden of over 45%.  And they want us to vote for them?

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

On Being Savaged by a Dead Sheep: Munchau Goes for Monti

The Italian prime minister has suffered the fate so famously suffered by Dennis Healey when under attack  from Geoffrey Howe for his economic policies.  Wolfgang Munchau's problems with the euro and its unaccountable survival are well-known.  On 27 November 2011 in the Financial Times he wrote a sheepish piece red in tooth and claw: the government bond market had seized up across the eurozone; the banking sector was broken too; major parts of the eurozone economy were cut off from credit; the zone was being subjected to an investors' and retail run; the rescue mechanism was being destroyed by a massive erosion of trust...

" The eurozone has 10 days at most....".  Baaaaaa.

This afternoon Italy's spread was under 355 [255, honestly!, ed. ], less than half what it was in November 2011, the euro stands at over 1.33 to the dollar, Monti has worked with Draghi and Merkel to stabilise the third largest economy in the eurozone and to re-establish a respected and respectable voice in European and world affairs.  Baaaa.

Italy Irreconcilable

At last some kinds of certainties are available in the Italian elections.  We have now: all the parties; all the party lists of candidates; all the formal coalitions in which the various parties are running; the porcellum (the election rules in Italy).  And anyone with half an eye has sorted the various media into the various political support camps with all the contortions, half truths, misleading analyses, obfuscation of ideological loyalties, and downright lies that need to be taken into account in reaching some understanding of these elections.What we don't have is any up-to-date polling with all this in place.  Until now  polls have been taken under conditions of uncertainty so high that their indicative levels have been rather low.

Two coalitions are truth-tellers  -  Mario Monti's coalition and Silvio Berlusconi's coalition.  The other coalition is trying to bamboozle the electorate with high-flown ethical rhetoric and low-level ideological motivation and political analysis -  Pierluigi Bersani's coalition is a 20th century throwback.

Monti offers radical changes to the Italian nation state via enthusiastic pursuance of ever-closer European union together with the personal, local and community values associated with a civic conscience.  Berlusconi offers radical changes to the Italian nation state via economic individualism, the decriminalising of economic activity and association currently condemned by the tax and spend state, together with a resurrected foreign policy using the Peninsula's pivotal position in the European Union and European geopolitics to contain central-northern European (and specifically German) economic aggression.   For Bersani's world view, please refer to the dreary history of realised socialism and the failure to understand that the future of the Left lies dead, its bullet-ravaged body at the foot of a wall in Berlin last century.

Coalescing seems to have gone as far as it can in Italy. These elections are a revelation of the profound divisions among its people.   

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Italian Prime Minister required to Undertake Self-Criticism by Democratic Party Coalition Leader

The ever-Green hard left Leader of the Democratic Party's main coalition partner, Nichi Vendola, erstwhile militant of Rifondazione Comunista and now of Sinistra Ecologia e Libertà (SEL) has  agreed to accept discussions on structural reform with Prime Minister Mario Monti provided Monti

 "undertakes acts of self-criticism." 

Turning to our guide and mentor on self-criticism we find that Mao explains

'.... we must have in mind two purposes: first, "learn from past mistakes to avoid future ones", and second, "cure the sickness to save the patient". The mistakes of the past must be exposed without sparing anyone's sensibilities; it is necessary to analyse and criticize what was bad in the past with a scientific attitude so that work in the future will be done more carefully and done better. This is what is meant by "learn from past mistakes to avoid future ones". But our aim in exposing errors and criticizing shortcomings, like that of a doctor curing a sickness, is solely to save the patient .... So long as a person who has made mistakes does not hide his sickness for fear of treatment or persist in his mistakes until he is beyond cure, so long as he honestly and sincerely wishes to be cured and to mend his ways, we should welcome him and cure his sickness so that he can become a good comrade.  .... '

Angels doesn't think Vendola was joking, though the Prime Minister did -  at least he asked if he was.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Charisma - the Cancer of Democracy

Two images stand out in a most peculiar speech opening the Democratic party campaign by their leader Bersani yesterday.

'The election campaign is careering off the rails' was the first oddity.  'Personalities and charismatic political leadership should play no part in the election and are a cancer rendering democracy impotent'  was the second.

Stooped over the lectern, his curious pumping motion with his right arm going strong as he spoke very slowly to an audience of 'young' people (in Italy young reaches 40 and even beyond) so that they would understand the content and importance of his remarks, he seemed unaware that communication is multi-levelled.  What he was communicating  to the general electorate, as we ate our dinner and watched the news, was fear and elderly sclerosis.

The most perfunctory exploration of the content of such images as runaway trains,  and going off the rails,  or cancer and impotence (and his earlier images of dirt swept under the carpet) finds fear of loss of control,  fear of choice and serendipity, rigidity of thought, lack of imagination,  coupled with images of loss of individual potency and capacity expressed directly by references to personal virtues and charisma as a cancer in the democratic body politic.

We are to think only of issues not personalities and their attractiveness.  And unless we stop watching Berlusconi and Monti with  interest and amusement (both of which are offered by both, in their very different ways) and get back onto the rails of our state-determined future as  laid-out by the  Democrats then, comrades, we're going to have to be told what our priorities are  (the priorities didn't seem to worry him - though as someone who allows reports to circulate that he wrote a dissertation in philosophy that creates a false impression of having a doctorate in philosophy -  they should).

Jobs (not work, note, but il posto with all its entitlements and unaffordable costs); same-sex marriage; positive discrimination for women in the workplace; citizenship for those born in Italy to non-citizens; changes to the tax structure; transparency (no, we don't know either); fullest support for European integration....No wonder we're going off the rails.

Pierluigi Bersani's priority is getting himself elected.  What happens then is entirely hidden from the voters.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Borrowing While the Going's Good

The head of Italy's debt management office, Maria Cannata (now there's a job - upwards of 2 trillion euros to finance)  has declared that  Treasury  strategy  is not specifically tied to the general elections at the end of February.  Eyebrows up.

"Market sentiment for Italian bonds is pretty favourable at the moment and the Treasury grabbed a window of opportunity",  with the new 15-year bond,   she told Reuters. Eyebrows rising further.

Italy paid 4.8% in comparison with the 2% Germany pays to borrow over 15 years, which is really not bad at all considering that last July  the yield was 7.1%  for Italy as the current Prime Minister tried to correct the effects of, as he noted yesterday, Italy not having had a prime minister for years.

As the gloves come off with the official opening of Monti's campaign this weekend in Bergamo (and the opening of his political campaign media centre and offices in the Corso in central Rome) we can expect multi-layered political fighting to break out everywhere.  Which is probably why Italy has already raised 34 billion euros towards the 420 billion euros it needs to borrow this year, before the unease over increasing political uncertainty (which the ECB says is causing capital outflows) starts driving up debt costs to unbearable levels again.    We don't want to have to ask the ECB to buy the debt now, do we?   Not unless we are the statist Leftists of the Democratic Party who would give up even Italian economic independence for the trappings of power.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Berlusconi Dumped by the European Centre Right

The European People's Party  (from which Cameron withdrew the UK Conservative party after the last UK election to join some extremely iffy people in another, much further Right grouping in the European parliament) has required the People of Liberty party (Berlusconi) to remove all references to the EPP from its manifestos and election literature.  Berlusca is seeking the popular vote (or perhaps that should be the populist vote, as the EPP would have it) by attacking the European project, the Euro, and German economic hegemony in Europe.

Mario Monti is our preferred candidate for the Italian elections they have declared (though Monti is reported to be less than pleased as his entire political campaign is based on policy, not personality or party) and a file has been opened on Berlusconi and his antics, as well as on his allies (the Northern Leagues are resolutely anti-Europa).  After a meeting between the secretary of the EPP and some of the People of Liberty Euro-MPs a clarification has been made: the issue is not the Party which is in good standing as a part of the European centre Right,  but Berlusconi himself and his off the cuff policy statements and beyond the Pale behaviour.

Italy is a founder-state of the EU and a core  member; the EPP is highly influential and becoming more so as reforms to the democratic representational institutions and shifts to correct the democratic deficit are considered within the Project.  This is more of a blow to Berlusconi's electoral prospects than might be thought by those of us who regard  Europa as something to leave, not something to build.  That the European Union is  integral to the outcome of the Italian elections is  underlined by the Italian Democratic party's under-powered economic spokesman offering up fiscal independence and the acceptance of extensive EU economic oversight in return for, effectively, eurobonds and institutionalised debt-sharing.  39 days to go.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Unbearable Bersani Bullies Ethical Voters

The Bersani bullyboys have been sent out again in force this week.  It has dawned on them that they have falling chances of taking the Senate and thus winning the elections. Voters are splitting their vote for the different Houses as the personnel and programmes of the various parties are fixed.  The protocommunist faction dominating the Democratic party is committed to all the weary policies of their ilk: high taxes for all; wealth taxes for the 'rich'; government-directed redistribution and 'investment'; no reforms of the labour market or the trade unions; advanced levels of fiscal and social surveillance..... the whole conceived and delivered by under-qualified and often confirmedly corrupt Party nominees.  A Brownian nightmare on the Mediterranean.

The heads of their party lists in the South of Italy are variously under investigation, charged or even at provisional stages of condemnation for Mafia-related corruption and general crime.  Not unnaturally there is a corruption- and Mafia-free list, led by a senior Southern magistrate, standing in all the Southern  regions - regions that must be won to take the Senate.  The lists for a Civic Revolution are attracting support so significant they will cause the Bersani candidates' defeat.  After all, if the people in the South want corrupt they can vote for Berluconi's candidates, which they probably will in large numbers, squeezing the Democratic party, from the  right, to  defeat.   There is a certain honesty-in-corruption that is more attractive than the Left's corruption-in-denial, let alone the wish to vote for no corruption at all.

Having refused to even speak to the leader of Civic Revolution the Democrats are now barking orders at voters to recognise their real civic duty to vote only for their Party and accusing the voters of political immorality in risking a Berlusconi win.  The Civic Revolution people had offered a clean list in the South and coalition within the centre-left but were dismissed by the Politburo as irrelevant if not positively uppity.  Now they're at 8-10% in the polls for the regions, and climbing, so it's not just Lombardia, the Veneto and the rest of the North at risk; it's Campania, Calabria and Sicily too.

On top of losing the Senate the Democrats' poll shares in the Lower House are falling as Mario Monti unpicks their economic pigheadedness.  40 days to go.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Concept of Candidate Premier Given Boost by Magistrates

Silvio Berlusconi's attempts to avoid Ruby giving evidence today have failed.  His lawyers had advanced the argument of legitimate impediment to the trial continuing until after the general elections and wheeled out a meeting in Rome today (to finalise the People of Liberty party list) as impeding the giving of evidence by the girl who was guest at bunga bunga parties in Berlusconi's Arcore villa, when in care and only seventeen.

The judges stated that as Alfano is Secretary of the  People of Liberty party, and the choice of candidate for premier is to be made after the election results are known, former prime minister Berlusconi cannot avail himself of the legitimate impediment excuse.

Whoops.  No wonder Berlusconi insists all magistrates are part of the Left.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Cowardy Custard

After Silvio Berlusconi's 2 hour tour de force of a performance on Thursday evening in which, at one point, over one quarter of Italian adults were watching the former prime minister knocking back his accusers  and interlocutors with a glorious panache (we're not discussing levels of truth here, truth is tricky anyway)  comrade Bersani has refused to meet Berlusca in television debate.

Bersani's slowness of speech, a measure of his slowness of thought, has been well-noted.  He prefaces every proposal and response with time-wasters: "in my I would be prepared to argue...." etc., and spices up the boredom with basic level, home-spun rhetoric, busy busy "brushing dirt under the carpet..." (honestly it's that bad).  The over-all slowness is embodied (literally) in his elderly gait, his drooping back, his hands (both of them) being carried in his pockets at all times as if his arms are too heavy to bear; the interminable swing of his head before he speaks - down, than shaking in negation, then the empty phrases.  He's a nightmare of facial rigidity, lips pursed thin, unsmiling except with a brownian grimace that positively unnerves.  Matteo Renzi was grace -  intellectual, verbal and physical - personified in his last tv confrontation.

Bersani has only ever held minor political office.  He was a minister of industry in one of the Prodi governments and introduced less regulation among taxi-drivers and chemists.  That's it: all he has ever done.   He dare not face the man who has dominated Italian politics for the last 20 years.  His excuse?  Bersani's spokesperson announces that Bersani will only debate on television (and doubtless anywhere else for that matter until Parliament reconvenes) with Candidate Prime Ministers. 

There is no such role in Italian politics.  It was revived from the socialist graveyard by Bersani's politburo to be conferred on him and to end any challenge from within the Democratic party coalition to his wooden presence being transferred from Secretary of his faction-dominated party to prime ministership of the country.  Berlusconi's coalition has announced already that their nominee for prime minister will be  chosen after the general elections at the end of February.  Not unreasonably they wish to look at the composition of returned members in the lower and upper Houses.  The Democratic party dare not do this.  If the former Communist party is finally to gain the premiership they must exclude all other Democratic party contenders.  They must constrain the President of the Republic's choice of calling on the lower House majority member most likely to command a bi-cameral majority.

Most of all Bersani must find an excuse, any excuse, not to debate his political superior in the nation's sitting rooms and kitchens.  We all enjoyed Mr Berlusconi's performance enormously against skilled and knowledgeably intelligent interviewers.  We want to watch another combat in the television arena. 

Prime Minister Monti has accepted an invitation to a television debate  with all other major  party leaders.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Friday, 11 January 2013

Napolitano puts Bersani in his Place

Yesterday the Prime Minister told Party Secretary Bersani that talk of coalitions and support was premature and, in view of the membership of the Democratic party coalition, not possible unless there was a great deal more centre and no left.  Mr Monti has no interest in left-wing politics, politicians, policies, except to defeat and prevent them.

The Party Secretary snarled back that the President of the Republic could be relied on to call the leader of the majority party in the Lower House to form an administration (indeed so, Napolitano stated this constitutionally proper position some weeks ago) and that Napolitano would be the 'policeman directing the traffic' after the election.  There is a clear implication here that the politburo of the Democratic party expects inappropriate support into office from the Presidency: an outrageous assumption, let alone expressed expectation.

Today the President of the Republic struck Bersani's politically vulgar sense of entitlement to office down again.  The nomination of new life-Senators  will be undertaken by his successor in the presidency.  It would be inappropriate for the current presidency to be involved in any way in replacing the two positions left vacant by the deaths of Pininfarina and Levi-Montalcini.

Considering the likely failure of the Democratic party to take the Senate and, thus,  the elections Comrade Bersani is being cut to size quite drastically at a very early stage of this rather rushed electoral battle.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Monti Puts Bersani in his Place

A sharp slap on the snout of the wannabe prime minister Bersani by the real thing Monti has sent the Italian spread below 270. 

"Whose side are you on?" whined the Democratic party Secretary after the Monti list put up a troika of candidates for the regional elections in Lombardy that will dish the candidate of the 'Left' and put control of the Italian Senate beyond their reach (it should be remembered that the Italian Senate is one half of a perfectly bi-cameral system with the Chamber of Deputies in the Italian Parliament; in such a system not to control both Houses is a fail) and thus the holding of office. 

"The side of the Italians who want access to power, not to be confined to assenting to one elite or another", is a montian answer literally incomprehensible to an authoritarian statist.

Bersani's demand has been met with an assertion of the supremacy of choosing what is to be done, not who is to do it.  An understanding of the purpose and aims of politics beyond the ken of our pierluigi.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Total Confusion in Italian Politics Causes Spread Rise

The Italian general elections will become clearer only after 25 January when the parties, the party lists and the manifestos (such as they are) will have been published.  Until then almost any guess at what is going to happen is wild.

There are at least five potential leaders one of whom (Berlusconi) is pretending to offer yet another politician as potential prime minister so that he could do a deal with the Northern Leagues - they get Lombardy in return for forgiving and forgetting the 13-month support  given to the Monti administration by Berlusconi's own party (in return for what is not clear even now).  There are a variety of Left, Lefter, and Beyond the Pale  (actually most of the Left in Italy falls into the last category) candidate prime ministers.  Then there is the current prime minister, Mario Monti, watching the spread rising again and the extremists of Left and Right wrecking the efforts of the last year and a bit.

The polls are reporting impossible returns: that 50% of the electorate will not vote; that the Democratic Party has 40% of the vote; that Berlusconi is at almost 30% with his re-alliance with the Northern Leagues; that Monti has anything from 12% to 22%.  It can't all be true.  Of course there won't be 50% of the electorate missing - they're just refusing to say till they know their best advantage (and many are probably shifty about saying 'Berlusconi'.)  Others have red lines.  Nothing will induce them to vote for Bersani and his repellent communist and trade union associates (a telling cartoon in radical left  Il Fatto showed an otherwise naked Bersani hiding his nasty nature under a bedraggled Democratic Party banner).  Equally nothing will induce some otherwise Monti voters to vote for former Fascist Party members or for Christian Democrat retreads.

The media is its partisan self with articles ranging from high-brow pretence to fact-based analysis,  to scurrilous attacks on the motivation and behaviour of candidates and parties.   Angels current wild stab in the dark is that Monti will take the Senate, and that the Lower House will degenerate into a violent and unforgiving brawl between Berlusconi populist self-seekers, and Bersani's Democratic party leftist extremists. 

President Napolitano has some very fine political finessing to do over who gets first dibs at forming an administration, and who gets second go when  votes of confidence are not achieved in one House or the other.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Berlusconi Wants Inquiry Into International Plot that Brought Down his Government

As the spread falls to 286 this afternoon Prime Minister Monti remarked that he is pleased to have reached the objective he declared when his administration took over the country 13 months ago after borrowing costs for Italy had reached unsustainable levels; international financial markets had wholly lost confidence in the country's economy.

However Silvio Berlusconi, whose government lost a major vote of confidence in the Lower House in November 2011,  to be replaced by Monti's, has announced that should he win  the February general elections there will be a commission of inquiry into his fall.  His suspicions of an international plot to be rid of him encompass: the Chancellor of Germany; the President of Italy; the presidents of the European Union Council and its Commission; the current Italian prime minister; and various technical advisors who bamboozled him with ostensibly non-political advice that the Italian economy was in a catastrophic position.

Mr Berlusconi is, and was then, engaged in  trial and appeal against conviction  on a number of personal matters.

Mr Monti finds himself confused by Mr Berlusconi "at a logical level" (Berlusconi having called for Monti to:  lead a coalition of the Right; not to stand at all; to recognise that he is unable to command votes;  for the electorate to vote for the Democratic Party - ie statist Left and extreme Left; and to stand as President Napolitano's replacement, among other suggestions).  Monti nevertheless thought the idea of a commission of inquiry on the fall of the Berlusconi administration "interesting".