Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Roses and Young Girls

The European Central Bank, under Mario Draghi, is  looking  like the Italian Constitution under  Giorgio Napolitano - malleable.  Germany swapped the Deutschmark for the euro in return for German reunification and the setting-up of a European central bank modelled on the Bundesbank; indeed the ECB was to be the Bundesbank writ large.  What was not to like in the founding pillar of the West German state becoming the founding pillar of a united Germany, and of the European Union as a whole? 

No, the Germans said,  the ECB would not be answerable to Ecofin.   "the single currency, under the authority of the Central Bank would complete monetary union, while economic union would merely consist of national policies, coordinated by the Council of Economic and Finance Ministers. "   The Delors Report would not be implemented. 

Well, it's looking as if the Italians are going to have a sly try.  Not the whole thing, of course, out of the question.  But this 'austerity is not enough, Europe needs fiscal measures and debt-sharing and common economic policies and  growth, and so say all of us except you Germans and your selfish northern goody-goodies'  mantra is  accompanied by the ECB's Mario Draghi pushing the mandate of the ECB as out of shape as his country's poor Constitution.  European Central Bank independence is becoming a double-edged sword.  Germany et al.,  needs to assert not just independence but the religious observance by the ECB of its mandate under the treaties; which brings us to Charles de Gaulle's  assessment of treaties - they last while they last.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Germany Has Outgrown the Project as Italy Scrambles to Get the European Central Bank Up and Running with OMT

It is crucial for the European Project to get an Italian administration in place, an interlocutor for the European Central Bank, before the Bundesbank puts the boot into Mario Draghi.  The ins and outs of democratic impropriety being explored by the Italian nomenklatura are of interest  only to the nerds of political imposition and its means, idiosyncratic to each state system, and no longer matter anyway

As the Italian administration members are announced 2.3 trillion euros of Italian sovereign debt  remains, as it always has  been,  the reef for the euro, and for the European Union that has tried to fix its own particular form for ever, via a common currency.   All the other eurozone states in sovereign debt crisis  are a nuisance but not a systemic threat to the single currency and thus to the European Project - the 'tying-down-Germany-into-the-Europe-that-suits-us-the-victors'  Europe.  Of course, Italy has always been a problem for Germany: it has a long, long tail of criminal, pre-modern governance attached to the continental north by nationalist concerns and, perhaps as importantly, it has a deep-rooted refusal to confront its 20th century history and confess, as Germany has done.   So it's quite a cheek for Italy to be still attempting a holier than thou attitude to Germany (it was an outrage during the last century) and try to use the Project to shove its debt onto German (and other member-states') taxpayers.  This administration is probably too late to activate OMT.

On balance Italy does not bring enough to a German-dominated European Union which is bound together by a common currency that is acceptable to modern Germany.  Indeed Italy and the aging Project is a constant threat to Germany's complex relations to the East and the Balkans and a threat, via its debt, to the central pillar and the political consensus  of the German state.  

Germany has sloughed-off the Project and is now building another Europe. Hence the closing-down of German acceptance of the European Central Bank and its variously-clothed attempts to saddle Germany with the debt, and all the corruption that debt represents, of others;  particularly Italian others (most of whom have no claim to ethical or political superiority over the Germany of either the last century or this.  It's no good Italy going about singing Bella Ciao at the tops of their voices, they were all at it, and many of them still are - 88 indeed).

So  while Italy's current (and in some cases erstwhile) elites are in part trying to justify their  present behaviour by a long out-dated need to cage a long-ago Germany, modern Germany is going to cut them and their Central Bank Italian off at the knees.  Frankly, Germany has bigger fish to fry and other roles to play.  Italy has allowed its  elites from the past, and its myths and self justifications of the past  to dominate its present and its people.  It's looking as if we're going to be left to stew in our own debt.  And the euro, its zone, and it's outdated Project are only for peripheral people.

Giorgio Napolitano hasn't noticed, but he's out of time, imposed administration or no.

One Last Heave for Napolitano

As the Italian collaborators stitch-up an administration they are, also and inevitably, creating the Opposition.  And the Opposition in Italy has constitutional roles (not that constitutional guarantees exist any more, of course, but they do have to go through the motions to obliterate them and that does take time).  Among those roles is the chair of the state broadcasting company, the RAI, and the chair of the state security commission, COPASIR.

If the Opposition is made up of more than one party then the chair is elected by a simple majority of the Opposition MPs.  The Five Stars have an enormous, absolute majority in the Opposition.  It doesn't matter that minor parties of the collaborationists are declaring themselves as part of the Opposition - Five Stars has 163 MPs.  It has been obvious since the election last February that if the Democratic Party could not split Five Stars and assimilate a large enough part of the Stellar Movement into an administration-supporting role then there was a huge threat to not just the Italian political elites. 

Accessing the files (and horrors) of COPASIR state intelligence by a political Movement based on internet and local association, entirely without party structures to act as gate-keepers to  political information and power,  would pale Wikileaks and the publication of the secret intelligence files of the German Democratic Republic into insignificance (and the GDR has been abolished, unlike Italy and its local, European, and gobal elites). 

Imagine - the state intelligence authority and the state broadcasting authority in Five Stars' irreverent hands.  Come on Giorgio Napolitano!  You're the vecchio, glorioso comunista - Italy and the world needs the smack of firm, authoritarian governance in this above all else.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Not Going to Prison is Not Enough

Silvio Berlusconi wants his conviction, and his possible conviction overturned and stopped.  Then he wants a constitutional revolution in which the Head of State is directly elected to be the political leader of the country, as in the  French Fifth Republic.  And he wants it now because convicted criminals are excluded from political office, and because he's old, though not as old as our current Head of State (who he plans to succeed and who could fall off the twig anytime.)

In the recent ructions  he's managed, as part of their settling down, to have the hearing confirming his conviction and four-year prison sentence halted while earlier parts of the conduct of the case are reviewed and, he hopes, a ruling sets aside the  conviction, after which  the statute of limitations will once more ride to his rescue as any fresh trial is cut off mid stride.  As for Bunga-Bunga and under-age prostitution, well that's already halted as he's too important and busy a politician to be disturbed by having to go to court while he's fixing up his future (there's some high falutin' legal language for this but effectively it's 'not going to court because too busy').

So,  he gets what he wants now and, to keep us all quiet we  get our property taxes back and are promised never again - or he pulls the plug on Wormtongue and we all vote on the beaches - when the offer of our property taxes back and a promise never to do it again will beckon (even now the polls are very much in favour).

It's either Berlusca is let off the hook and given a presidency to stand for or the Stability and Growth Pact.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Italy Precipitating Towards a General Election

The "vecchio, glorioso comunista"  (88) who admonished us all in mouth-filling Togliatti-speak while swearing at the Italian Parliament has now told the media to be quiet and do its bit for the stitch-up under Silvio Berlusconi's right-hand-man's nephew -  or he will resign. 

So it's as we were, really.  No government -  because Bersani's deputy is no more use than Bersani in delivering a united governing party; and  no Head of State because he's on the brink of resignation twenty-four hours into a seven year mandate he is wholly unequipped to fulfil; and with the outgoing prime minister, Mario Monti, having just altered the wording of his final decree to embed irreversibly a property tax demanded by the European Union to bring Italy into line with pan-eurozone  (and EU) tax measures, despite the abolition of taxes on wealth, particularly main residence wealth, being the cornerstone of Berlusconi's policies.

The newly-elected governor of Friuli-Venezia-Giulia  (Renzi-party) has arrived in Rome to confront the Democratic Party with their refusal to vote for Rodota' as President even as they agreed to vote for Berlusconi in government (or at least part of the Party did).

We are all going to the seaside shortly, until September, so the general election will have to be in October.  That will coincide nicely with general elections in Germany.    

Wormtongue Appointed in Italy

Giuliano Amato, arriving in Rome to open a new exhibition he has curated on Niccolo' Machiavelli, has expressed his satisfaction at the appointment of Enrico Letta, stand-in leader of the Democratic Party after Pierluigi Bersani's resignation, as Prime Minister-elect.

Letta requires a vote of confidence in both Houses of Parliament to confirm his administration.

 'Meglio un morto in casa che un Pisano all'uscio' as they say in Florence.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Looking on the Bright Side in Italy

We had received such a tongue-lashing for the last 17 months - public debt over 130% of GDP, tax take far too low,  punishment by the markets, irresponsible behaviour and  lack of civic  pride, international scorn, private selfishness over-riding the public good.....on and on went the elites and the political establishment to the point we were getting sheepish and even considering owning up to these charges.

Napolitano II has saved the day.  All the media say he has saved the day, both here and abroad.  We must draw lessons from his behaviour:  no need to follow the rules, rules have been set aside because of the crisis; our ethical and political stances must embrace the ethical and political stances of those who look to Berlusconi as their embodiment; pragmatic agreement and implementation of compromise on, well, almost everything really, is the act of the good citizen.  We must consider our situation and act accordingly, regardless of rules, codes, higher things.

Italians have been returned to our existential comfort zone. 

Monday, 22 April 2013

Rome Empty as Napolitano II Parades Through the City

Napolitano II progressed through a Rome  totally silent apart from occasional performances of the better-known parts of the national anthem by various military bands.  Not a soul turned up to acclaim his presidency.  Monumental Rome treated the military ceremonial with contempt, and Napolitano II was accompanied only by his European Union catspaw Mario Monti and the heavy security guard, after delivering an ill-tempered, ill-mannered harangue before  Parliament after being sworn-in. 

Better than being sworn at, presumably, but that will come after the courtesy of silence extended to the office he has occupied today.

Who Would Want Office in Napolitano's Puppet Government?

Giuliano Amato has publicly expressed his distaste at the instrumentalisation of his name by various political factions within the political parties that make up the Italian political establishment during the run-up to the elections for head of state. 

Professor Amato is  quintessentially a European statesman. How much more distasteful must he find, then, the persistent association of his name - as potential appointee of the disgraceful Napolitano stitch-up - with prime minister in the puppet government about to be imposed.

Angels cannot believe that such an esteemed political scientist, jurist and constitutionalist would touch such 'office', such a presidency, with a barge-pole. 

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Grabbing Power

The Italian Constitutional Court should have ruled on the validity of a renewed candidature to the presidency of Italy.  The Italian Constitution rests on more than one pillar:  there is the codification in the text;  there is precedent; there are court rulings; there is interpretation by distinguished scholars incorporated in re-castings of the code;  there is the history of the constitution itself which brings with it the precedent and rulings and interpretations of the constitution/s on which it draws or has been modelled; then there is the influence of supra-national law and many other influences that any constitutionalist will list.  

Suffice it to say that the Italian Constitution does not exist  solely in a text .  Even less so does it exist  in a vacuum - it  is, and must be, part of democracy which derives from many and deeply-rooted sources, both in time and in space.

Thus to watch the democratic charade enacted yesterday in the Italian Parliament was very painful.  Certainly the democratic procedures of voting were pompously observed - but the doubtful legitimacy of the candidature remained unaddressed.  Only the Constitutional Court is constitutionally and technically equipped to address the legitimacy of the candidature of a sitting president to his own succession.

For a start Napolitano 1 is in office until 15 May, his powers constitutionally  and deliberately weakened in the last 6 months of that office.  Napolitano 2 is over-riding that constitutional provision by taking office tomorrow.  Has Napolitano 1 resigned?  Or are we to have two presidents as we have two popes?  The fact that the man is the same person does not extinguish the provisions made to prevent the inappropriate use of presidential powers at the end of a presidency.  Nor does the fact that the code is silent imply that other constitutional resources do not forbid a candidature we are expected to endorse in the name of some greater good.

Rules matter.  Without them there is no democracy.


It has just been announced that Napolitano has 'formally resigned' from the presidency prior to the swearing-in ceremony this afternoon.  So if Italy means to declare war anytime between now and half past five this evening it'll be the Speaker of the Senate who does it.   More important matters, such as reaching for power outside the constitutional mandate are, however, continuing apace  under Napolitano's own steam.


    Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 94?

Negotiations Underway

Meetings are now underway in Rome to impose an administration after the Italian general election in February got out of hand.  Congratulations on his election by the majority cross-coalition Elites Party in Parliament were expected to open the discussions, after the Party Congress yesterday gave a standing ovation  to President Napolitano (88).

[Isn't that Berlin?  Never mind, same old...., ed.]

Game, Set, Match Berlusconi

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory the majority party from last February's general election has: resuscitated Berlusca's political power; saved him from judicial retribution; restored his status as Leader of the Right; failed to form a government and, indeed, facilitated the installation of  a government of the european political elites; failed to stand up for working people in Italy, silencing the trades unions in the process with undelivered and now undeliverable pacts on wages and conditions;  and put in office an eighty-eight-year-old man [eighty-seven and three-quarters,  ed.]  with the institutional bit between his teeth, for a seven-year term.

Silvio Berlusconi has also broken the centre-left with a vivid, televised  demonstration  of how  many of the Democratic Party are actually his MPs - the former Leader of the Democratic Party put the number at one in four of those MPs elected as Democrats and then resigned.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

A Frightening Prospect Emerges

To press Giorgio Napolitano to stand for re-election, as factions within the Democratic Party are now doing is to open Pandora's box.  The words being used, 'Continue in office at least until the institutional and political crisis is resolved...' ignore constitutional and political reality.

There is no provision for 'extending' a president's seven-year term.  A president can stand for election again but none have done so, none have been encouraged to do so, despite willingness on the part of various presidents in the past.  The reason is made plain by the shennanigans of the past few days (months?, years?)  Every president is elected in, shall we say idiosyncratic circumstances, capable of unexpected outcomes.  Ask Romano Prodi.  Giorgio Napolitano's election was by means distasteful to many and by a narrow simple majority on the fourth ballot.

Were he to stand again and fail, as Prodi failed, the delegitimisation of his time in office would be immediate.  It is bad enough already; despite media attempts at beatification Napolitano is widely disliked for his politicization of the Presidency and is now recognised as a profoundly polarising  head of state. A united Europe and the unity of Italy based on the state redistribution of wealth and power to the South from the North are not uncontentious goals.

Napolitano needs to get out of the kitchen.

After Berlusconi's coalition refused to vote at all in the elections to the Presidency of Italy both today and yesterday, and the Democratic party voted blank, at the fifth attempt to elect a head of state, Giorgio Napolitano has agreed to stand again.  Unsurprisingly there is insistence on the secrecy of the ballot being waived and the Democratic Party electors will have their votes traced.  Unsurprisingly but disgracefully, that is.  We are watching the formalisation of dictatorship here.

Further UPDATE
The coalition of Berlusconi,  Bersani,  Monti, and Moroni has elected  Giorgio Napolitano  as Head of State in Italy.  President Napolitano is 88.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Secretary of Italian Democratic Party Resigns: Pierluigi Bersani Out After Romano Prodi Defeated

The Secretary of the Partito Democratico and 'candidate premier', Pierluigi Bersani,   has resigned, as has the President of the Democratic Party, Rosy Bindi.  A meeting of the Grand Electors of the centre-left this evening is trying to decide what to do after inflicting a major humiliation on the founder of the Party, the former European Union Commission President Romano Prodi,  in failing to deliver enough votes for a simple majority in the elections to  the Italian Presidency (over 100 too few).  Prodi is reported to be livid.

Italy now has no President and no elected government.  Good thing it's the weekend.  Tomorrow morning at 10am there is the fifth ballot for the Presidency and half the electorate has no candidate.  Silvio Berlusconi has offered to provide a short list from which the Left can choose. 

Prodi Fails To Be Elected By Over 100 Votes

Despite the Grand Electors of the centre-right - the Berlusconi coalition and the Regions of the Right,  withdrawing from the Chamber without voting, Romano Prodi has been humbled by the Bersani faction of the Democratic Party acting as if they are the Communist Party of Italy using all the tactics that belonged with that Party.

While the Five Star Movement and Monti's Scelta Civica voted for their nominees in disciplined fashion, over 50 Democrats broke ranks, voting for Rodota', Cancellieri, and D'Alema as well.

Will Pierluigi Bersani finally resign after his second imposed candidate fails even to get a simple majority?


Romano Prodi has withdrawn his candidacy for the Presidency.

Further UPDATE

Romano Prodi has now called for the resignation of Bersani, reports La Repubblica:

"Chi mi ha portato a questa decisione deve farsi carico delle sue responsabilit√†." ["Those who brought me to this decision must bear their responsibilities."]  
Romano Prodi was the founder of the centre-left Partito Democratico.

A Prodi Presidency Would be a Disaster for Italy and Its Working People

Romano Prodi must be an unacceptable candidate for President of Italy to any Grand Elector of the real Left i.e, the Left that represents working people, not the intellectual bourgeois Left that amuses itself playing cultural politics.

The European Union's economic policies are the ruin of working people in many Member States.  These policies require internal devaluation, certainly in all those States that are inside the Eurozone and in others that are still, by their rules of accession, candidate Eurozone members.

Internal devaluation is the polite term for lowering the standard of living of working people. Specifically it targets working people rather than rentiers.  It lowers real wages, raises indirect taxes, reduces the social wage, produces unemployment as a means of labour discipline.  It is being applied across Europe.  It  makes Angels weep,  never mind the representatives of working people.  Prodi is on record as saying that the European Stability and Growth pact is "stupid", but never has he acted to limit the damage it does to working people's lives.

So why is the Democratic Party, repository of the hopes for defence against all this, supported by the organisations of the working people (even corrupted as they are by ideologies and idiocies of centuries past) trying to get an architect of working people's misery made President? 

Parliamentary Rinascimento

The presidency of Italy has a fixed seven-year term.  Elections for the next president now can hardly have come as a surprise to the Politburo of the Democratic Party, yet it presses for putting-off the vote today to allow time for reflection.  Meanwhile  regional offices of the Party are being occupied by infuriated Party members from one end of the Peninsula to the  other, and Party cards are burning in front of the Parliament's Lower House.

Yesterday's two votes left Politburo plans in ruins as the Democratic Party Grand Electors to the presidency defected en masse to vote for Rodota', the Five Star Movement's candidate.  The Democrats lost their coalition partners and almost half their own MPs - not a loss that could be dismissed as 'dissidents' though, pathetically, some tried.

Notable in yesterday's two votes was the compact, disciplined voting of Berlusconi's People of Liberty and their coalition parties, the Lega Nord particularly.  Berlusconi always delivers (though we often disapprove of what). What he delivered yesterday was the demolition of the Left.

This morning's vote is the last requiring a two thirds majority for victory (this is supposed to be a co-operative and conciliatory procedure choosing an institutional office-holder who represents the unity of Italy and guaranteeing the system of governance, but the malevolence and viciousness of the political infighting - a fascination of itself - reveals 'victory' is what is being sought) after which a simple majority will suffice.

The expected candidates for this afternoon's vote are:

Franco Marini (who refuses to stand down despite failing at both ballots yesterday, with his 'supporters' polling blank ballots in vote number 2 after he was over 150 votes short in the first vote);

Massimo D'Alema (former leader of the Communist Party of Italy);

Romano Prodi (for the European Union);

Stefano Rodota'  (5 Star Movement and Democratic Party rank and file candidate)

The television pictures of the  Chamber of the Lower House are mesmerising.   To vote the electors worm their way through polished wooden Anderson shelters, emerging from the curtains at the end looking as if they've been through one of those re-birthing experiences used in alternative therapy procedures.   Angels suspect it is affecting their voting behaviour.


Franco Marini has withdrawn

Anna Maria Cancellieri, the Monti government's Home Secretary, has been nominated by Monti in the name of a policy of widest possible agreement on candidates.  Berlusconi's coalition is evaluating their response.

Massimo D'Alema hasn't said a word on his candidature.

Romano Prodi is reported to be coming back from Africa tomorrow.

Stefano Rodota' is still the candidate of 5 Stars and Solidarity at least for the 3rd ballot (now counting).


Thursday, 18 April 2013

Terms of the Italian Stitch-Up?

The suggestion that the only way to give Berlusconi a 'safe conduct' from his various legal difficulties is that he should be made a senator for life has been mooted.  To match this breath-taking impertinence, Romano Prodi will also be appointed a life senator.  All this, of course, if the 'approved' candidate of the Democratic party and the People of Liberty Party is elected to the Presidency and Bersani is given the premiership (or at least a try at it).  The President appoints senators for life.  There are, conveniently, two vacancies.

Former Prime Minister Prodi's view on all this is not known.

An Insult to Italy

An 80 year old, white, male, former trade union leader whose prosecution for corruption during the 1990s was halted only by a refusal of the parliamentary commission of the day to lift his parliamentary immunity has been nominated by the Democratic Party leadership politburo as the candidate agreed between Bersani and Silvio Berlusconi  for the office of Head of State in Italy.

Angels assume this proposal is a means of discovering just how bad is the collapse of discipline within the Democratic Party and between the Party's coalition members.  Unfortunately the patent inappropriateness of the nomination has shattered the loyalty even of those who were hanging in there with the Bersani leadership through  thick (and thick is the word for him and them) and thin (and there are even fewer of them now).  A cornered Bersani has made this the vote of confidence in his leadership without regard to the cost it imposes on the country.   "I have matters of my own to deal with," he is reported as saying.  A triumphant Berlusconi  has heaped mealy-mouthed praise upon the candidature he has forced upon Bersani.  So far the only thing he hasn't praised Franco Marini for  is that he too is a victim of 'politicized justice'.

The Democratic Party's principal ally - Solidarity, Ecology, Liberty - is voting for the candidate of the Five Stars.  Chosen after on-line primaries, Stefano Rodota' is a jurist of outstanding competence and  a noted defender of civil liberties - though he too is white, male and eighty years old.  Originally we had chosen a fearlessly investigative, female journalist in her fifties but she refused the nomination, saying despite the honour her skills were not those needed in the Presidency - an honesty and self-awareness that only confirmed what a great woman she is.  So the Five Stars went with the jurist who came in third; second, a wholly estimable surgeon working in theatres of war to help victims of minefields and drone-strikes, asked too that the nomination go to Rodota' as the better qualified for the role of president.

The Mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi,  who leads the sane wing of the Democratic Party has called the Bersani politburo's nomination an insult to the country.  Voting starts in Parliament at 10am.


Franco Marini is now unable to achieve two thirds of the vote at the first count.

The People of Liberty party are calling for a change of tactics by Berlusconi.

The Lega Nord agreed to vote for Marini only on the first ballot.

Almost certainly other blocs of votes for Marini, such as the Monti Civic List will start to fragment at the second ballot, which also requires a two thirds majority.

As the dirty details of the stitch-up between Berlusconi and Bersani emerge the Democratic Party is breaking up.

Further UPDATE after the second ballot.

No-one elected.  Marini now abandoned although he has not withdrawn his candidature.

The coalition Berlusconi/Bersani/Monti vote blank ballots.  The expectation is the same tactic will be used at the next ballot then, when a simple majority suffices, a new candidate will be wheeled out. 

The Democratic Party has split in two. 

Cold loathing seems to be the order of the day.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Electing a Head of State Italian Style

The Italian Constitution dedicates 8 articles (83-91) to the election, duties and removal of the head of state.  The paucity of powers conferred  reflects the negative experiences of Fascist government.

The head of state electorate is summoned by the Speaker of the Lower House.  The electorate consists of both Houses of Parliament sitting in common session together with 3 representatives from each of the Italian Regions with the exception of the Val d'Aosta which has one.  Regional representatives are elected by Regional Councils, normally 2 from the ruling group and one from the opposition, although other 'Grand Electors' are not excluded formally.

Voting Rules
Of those present and voting a two thirds majority is required for election on the first few ballots.  After that a simple majority will suffice.  Only two heads of state have succeeded on one of the first two ballots since the Second world war.  Some elections have dragged on for up to two weeks.

Candidates must be over 50 years old, Italian citizens,  and in full possession of their civil and political rights.  It is possible to be re-elected but no-one ever has been despite lots of former heads of state being only too eager to stay on.  No other post, public or private, may be held by the head of state, nor may the head of state undertake any other professional activity.

Taking Office
Office begins at the swearing-in ceremony immediately after the term of the previous office-holder expires, and lasts for seven years.

No vice-presidential office exists.  Should the head of state be unable to function for whatever temporary reason  the president of the Senate steps in.

Threaten, or even make rude remarks about the honourability of the head of state,  and the high jump awaits.  In instances of the head of state's high treason or assault upon the Italian Constitution Parliament will bring accusations after a joint sitting and then  bring the head of state before the  Constitutional Court.  This has never happened despite sore provocation on various occasions.  The head of state cannot be tried for decisions taken during office pertaining to official duties.

Every act of office by the head of state must be counter-signed by either the appropriate minister responsible in the government of the day or by the prime minister, except when the head of state acts in the the three duties specifically indicated by the Constitution:
- that of President of the Supreme Defence Council
- that of President of the Superior Council of Magistrates
- that of representing national unity [lot of room there, ed.]

The head of state can send back to Parliament legislation which raises doubts on its constitutional propriety or which has no financial cover.  [Eyebrows raised at this point may attract the penalties mentioned above on honour and rude remarks, which certainly includes gestures. ed.]

The head of state nominates Life Senators of which there seems to be a general agreement that half a dozen or so is the limit, at least no head of state has yet tried making so many as to alter the balance of political power in a perfectly bi-cameral Parliament.  The head of state can send warning messages to the Parliament that it is misbehaving; nominates constitutional judges, which last power is at the crux of Silvio Berlusconi's current political operations.  The head of state can dissolve the Parliament  within the parliamentary five-year term when no-one is able to command a majority, except when in the last six months of  the seven-year presidential  office [in which Napolitano has been since November. ed.]

The head of state nominates the prime minister, either after a general election or when an administration falls to votes of no confidence in Parliament, after consultations with the speakers of both Houses of Parliament and the political parties.

The current Head of State has nominated no-one to face the Parliament since the general election last February.  On any actions the current Head of State has undertaken since that election, other than those noted above,  the Italian Constitution is silent.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Living in the Past

"The BBC is considering broadcasting a clip of the 1939 song and having a reporter explain why it is in the top spot. “Many 16 to 24-year-olds are too young to remember when Lady Thatcher was in office,” a source said.",  reports the Telegraph this morning.

It's a scary thought that  some  16 to 24-year-olds  are not too young to remember Margaret Thatcher's years in office - time-lords perhaps.  In Italy we have some 16 to 24-year-old partigiani, indeed many such partisan time-lords are even into their seventies, and they have songs from the 1930s too,  with vivid, life-informing experience of fighting for freedom from the Fascists, despite losing their enemy in 1943.  Unfortunately these experiences do not inform or engage  them in fighting current forms of statist authoritarianism, or even in fighting the eurozone Germans  - that's the trouble with being a  time-lord, you get stuck in a past irrelevant  to an understanding of today's society.

I blame it on their parents.  

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Morality and the President of Italy

The President of Italy,  lips thrust forward in 'considered' statement, hands in preachyness, is the outward expression of his inward grace.  He has chosen to condemn those 'moral fanatics' who 'ruin politics'.

That'll be us.  Our insistence that politics should not be funded from taxes, that no parliamentarian should bear other office, that those condemned by the courts should not be eligible for election, that 'expenses' should be backed by paid receipts, that the Legislature, in Parliament should function forthwith regardless of inter-party struggle over the Executive, that Monti has no further mandate, that it is the primary task of the Head of State to nominate prime ministers until someone commands a majority in both Houses, that we do not condone last-gasp pardons for definitively convicted Americans who practice Rendition in the streets of Milan - thus undermining the Judiciary by ultra vires Executive act, our requirement that those who cannot fulfil the role of head of State should resign to make way for someone who can, that at the very least an end could come to mouthing falsity and lies in the interests of dead objectives from half a century ago; our insistence that the Head of State should not subject the interests of Italy and its people to the interests of the European Union's elites - that'll be us, the electorate and our so inconvenient morality ruining the 'politics' of  an ill-spent political life.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Italy's Colonels

                                 Monti       Bersani         Berlusconi

Monday, 8 April 2013

1976 Is a Very Long Time Ago Mr President

The dictatorship under Napolitano continues.  The Head of State has still not made the slightest effort to appoint a prime minister to face Parliament.  The Monti 'administration' continues to issue decrees without authority to do so under this Parliament and goes as far as Brussels to receive the European Union blessing for his extra-constitutional efforts.  The group of  unconstitutional advisors continues to fulfil, as they recognise, their true function of simply wasting time.

Napolitano has just been on television exhorting us to display the 'spirit of 1976' - what spirit?  He was eulogising the 20th anniversary of the death of some old communist I'd never heard of who must have somehow distinguished himself (in doubtless particularly repellent fashion).  If it wasn't so pathetic it might be unnerving.  Immediately after his appearance Margaret Thatcher appeared on the screen in a brief resume of her political life.  What a contrast between a major politician and this  87 year old president who is unfortunately still with us.

Tomorrow Parliament is to be occupied by its MPs in a further attempt  to initiate parliamentary democratic governance.   Currently the Speaker of the Lower House is in accord with setting going the Parliamentary Committees needed to activate parliamentary process.  The former communist who is the Speaker of the Senate won't hear of it.  Perhaps the reading of the Constitution might stir his brains into recognising the position he's getting himself into.  

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Bersani and Berlusconi Unite to Prevent the Functioning of the Italian Parliament

The pretence that the Democratic Party will not act politically with the Berlusconi's centre right coalition to form a government is wholly undermined by the reality that the two parties are acting together to prevent the Parliament from working.  Ever since  MPs were declared elected (which took long enough) even now the two coalitions of Left and Right refuse to allow what the largest single party - the 5 Stars Movement - is seeking: the putting into operation of the various Parliamentary Commissions from which legislation is generated.   Parliamentary rules require that each Commission have a chair and vice chair.  Without a government, say Bersani and Berlusconi (tacitly recognising that the Monti left-over is no government) those offices cannot be filled.  Actually they can; in precisely the kind of hiatus we have now there is provision for the most senior Commission member to act as chair  (and since when has anybody been paying the slightest regard to the rules in this fiasco of ad hoc governance?).

There is a grand coalition alright, or rather a common front - keep the 5 Stars Movement away from the levers of power is its bedrock, secret negotiation and agreements its means.  Just as Beppe Grillo said it would be.  Except that the strain of the exclusion imperative, of freezing out our Movement, is tearing the coalitions apart, particularly Bersani's coalition.  Matteo Renzi's  MPs are calling for central parts of the 5 Stars programme to be enacted, particularly the removal of all public funding from political parties; the far Left rainbows SEL are joining with the 5 Stars for the immediate  initiation of the Commissions' work, indeed it is SEL that has pointed to the means for them to start work immediately.

Napolitano, Berlusconi, and Bersani are horrified at the obvious capacity of the Parliament to work without the control of an Executive.  Their problem now is to 'wrap' their alliance sufficiently well to keep their electorates without losing face - and votes - when we go back to the polls.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Heads of State: Their Failings and Their Splendours

As what looks remarkably like a works' council from Togliattigrad attempts to run Italy the country is without any form of constitutionally sanctioned government. When Elizabeth II asked David Cameron to form a government she didn't do so after five weeks of bad-tempered disbelief at what we had voted for, she didn't appoint a couple of Royal Commissions to set out answers to politico-institutional and socio-economic  problems facing the the United Kingdom and add another who knows how long to the wait for a government, she didn't whine that 'the parties have left me isolated'. She didn't hesitate:

Mr Cameron to face Parliament, Mr Brown to vacate Downing Street (and get a move on).

Nor did she visit Italy last month.  Didn't feel too well.  You wouldn't, would you?

Monday, 1 April 2013

Mario Monti Should Insist That His Administration Is At An End

Whatever can Mario Monti be thinking of?  Why is he lending himself to this anti-democratic farce in Italy?  It is one thing to handle matters of everyday administration until the designated majority politician faces the House for a vote of confidence.  It is quite another to continue to govern the country when he has not just lost the last elections, he couldn't find the last elections again if he searched for them with both hands.  And it is no excuse for apologists to argue that the Constitution places no limits on what is meant by 'everyday administration'.  Mario Monti knows perfectly well that he is acting well beyond any commonsense interpretation of those parameters, let alone previous practice which contributes just as much to Italy's written constitution as the words themselves (of necessity, though codified versus non-codified is not the argument of this post).

The Leader of the Democratic Party should face the Parliament.  He has the mandate, he has the MPs.  If he wins a confidence vote then he's it;  if he doesn't then it should be Bersani running a caretaker administration, while new alliances are hurriedly shunted together to have their try, not Mario Monti.  If the President of the Republic has not noticed that there is a new Parliament whose confidence Monti does not enjoy, we have.  And most certainly Monti has.   Monti needs to get up the hill to Napolitano and tell him that's it, the Monti administration is over, tomorrow morning, first thing.  Otherwise he's as responsible for what is going on as Napolitano.