Monday, 15 July 2013

Rather Here Than There

The government so ardently desired and forcibly installed by Napolitano is now beyond description revolting.  The Deputy Speaker of the Senate has called the Minister for equality of opportunity an orangutan.  Leading members of his party have called for apologies not to the minister but to orangutans.  Napolitano, in an attempt to discard responsibility for the imposition of this coalition protested at the unheard of and degrading insults and was told to be quiet and mind his own business as this is the administration he engineered and sustains.

Napolitano has tried to assert that F35s and their worth and purchase is a decision for him and his puppet Executive, and to push aside Parliament's central decisional importance on expenditure;  he has been sharply put in place by constitutional analysts and even his own 'Commission' of constitutional experts but continues to insist that he and his army can do as they choose with their yet-another-special 'Commission', meeting in the presidential palace.

This corruption of politicians posing as an elected government has rendered the wife and daughter of a refugee to Kazahkstan  after informal meetings in Sardinia between the Kazahkstan dictator and Berlusconi.  Insult was then added to injury by the Italian state declaring the rendition shouldn't have taken place and the wife and daughter are welcome to return to Italy.  They have neither passports nor means or permission to go, and who would willingly return, considering the manner of their leaving? 

At what level of political and moral degradation  any member of the Letta government will resign is a source of speculation.  Economic failure, mass unemployment, social repression, law-breaking, state officials' and ministers' racial abuse (it's not just the Minister for Equalities, the illegally rendered wife was attacked by Ministry of the Interior paramilitaries screaming 'Russian whore' as they dragged her out of her house); and the suspension of Parliament for two days in protest at Berlusconi's final appeal being brought forward to deny the statute of limitations cancelling his conviction and condemnation - a suspension supported and voted for by the Democratic party and minor members of Napolitano's coalition administration - has not been enough.

In an appalling way it's technically interesting to watch how a fascist regime is put in place.  From London, that is.  Even the weather is better here than there.

Friday, 5 July 2013

La Miseria

The grocer in the village has stopped selling bread unless you have an order.  He explained the bakers have stopped taking back unsold bread and reduced the kinds of bread and other bakery products on offer.  It's a classic.  You can now order un pane once more, like all those years ago, and get what you're given.  It'll be un chilo di ciccia next and a lump of unidentified meat will be wrapped and handed.

The Italian statistical office has just issued its latest household consumption data [in English, should you care to look at the miserable collapse into ever-lower living standards and widespread poverty in all its detail, ed.]  Italian household consumption has fallen by the most since records began. 

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Bailing In

Italy's economic distress is matched by its political and institutional debacle.  Starting from the top Italy has a head of state arguably unconstitutional in that second terms of office while not specifically forbidden are excluded by every provision noted within the constitution: by the fixed  length of term of office, 7 years, which implies no repeat -14 years is far too long for a non-hereditary system; by the characteristics sought of candidates,  extensive senior civic and  political experience which of itself implies  relatively advanced age in any candidate; by there existing no precedent for any re-election.

Next Italy has a prime minister wholly unsupported by the electorate's votes.  The election was held with entirely other candidates for office - none of whom was asked to form a government by a then out-going president, who positively precipitated governmental crisis by refusing to invite any Party leader to face Parliament, and then acted extra-constitutionally in appointing a committee to delineate the characteristics of both premier and policies regardless of expressed electoral choices.

The Parliament itself has been elected under  rules that have been rejected as unlawful by the supreme court but its decision, though available on line, has not been officially transmitted to the constitutional court - some half a kilometre away - because various official  practices required for its transmission have not yet been carried out in the last 8 weeks. 

The iffy Parliament is now altering the articles of the Italian constitution that set out the regulation of changes to the Constitution.  The finalisation of the removal of safeguards to the integrity of the Constitution will be during August, while no-one is around and looking. 

The reform of the Constitution will include altering the role and powers of the head of state (retrospective cover there, then) but excludes specifically any alteration to the sections of the  Constitution dealing with the judiciary and its independence -  while the newly and increasingly empowered head of state will remain as head of the judiciary.

The imposed prime minister is ruling ad hoc and  by decree, such decrees to be voted eventually by the Parliament, without normal legislative initiation procedures from parliament, and without any publicly discussed programme, let alone voted-upon manifesto. 

The Democratic party, of whom the Prime Minster is a member, delays electing a leader (having installed a temporary leader who is not the prime minister, in the interim, by appointment not election) and flouts every aspect of its own rule book (for, like the Labour party, when in office the party Leader is prime minister) to prevent any disturbance of the imposed prime minister's tenure.  A Party congress to choose a leader by election is repeatedly deferred and next year (sometime) is now being mooted.   

The minority Coalition partner in government has just seen its leader convicted repeatedly, at various levels for various crimes, and the People of Liberty party is to re-form with most of it in a newly founded Forza Italia party whose self-selected Leader will once more be Berlusconi (what happens to the remnants is not clear).

The third largest grouping within the ruling Coalition, Monti's Civic Choice party, is at last (and at least) demanding a  setting out and agreement of Coalition policies, on the German grand coalition model -  which demand has been refused, dismissed, by the Head of State (not even bothering to have the fig-leaf prime minister make the statement) as not serious, 'not a threat'.  Threat that is to the  novel administration being inflicted on the country.

Meanwhile unemployment is at its highest since 1977 and to say just that there's no money left would be positively reassuring given the state the country's economy is in.   Italy is far too big to bail out using the procedures applied to Greece, Cyprus and Ireland - even Spain, by Troika or the EU currency union alone.  The Cyprus template for financial response to currency union weakness  may not be the only template being trialled by determined europhiliacs. 

Italy is a template, a trying out of a total bail-in: not just in failing banks and financial areas but of the entire country's democratic institutions and procedures, including financial.  Every means of response short of unacceptable gestures in a civil society is being blocked-off and the country delivered hog-tied for whatever-it-takes financial and economic, institutional and political measures that will preserve the Project. 

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

It's Not Just Berlusca Who Can Embarrass For Italy

Silvio may have said out loud his assessment of the German Chancellor's bottom but there are public figures in Italy who display worse forms of vulgarity.  Consider these profound economic assessments delivered oh so sententiously in that washing-the-words-round-the-palate, plummy tones of the President of the Republic; he is addressing Confindustria (whose members enjoy  a certain entrepreneurial capacity).

Napolitano feels the need  for removal of "normative and administrative inadequacies which  prevent Italy from acquiring such significant potential resources [inward foreign investment].... "Today",  we are told by the Head of State, no less, "the flow of foreign investment is crucial to give an innovative stimulus to  production and employment recovery: not just to  provide fresh capital, but contributions from people, and ideas, of production and organisational models, of new technologies and systems."*

Who would ever have thought this?  Such innovative freshness of economic thought  from our 88 year old.  Take us away, Giorgio!

At least Berlusca knows what he's talking about.

* [only fair to put in the rotund phrases, the jejeune advice, as offered in the original, ed.]
".....rimuovere le inadeguatezze normative ed amministrative che impediscono di acquisire all'Italia così significative potenziali risorse». ..."Oggi l'afflusso di investimenti dall'estero in Italia é cruciale per dare uno stimolo innovativo alla ripresa produttiva e all'occupazione: non solo per l'apporto di capitali freschi, ma il contributo di persone e di idee, di modelli produttivi e organizzativi, di nuove tecnologie e sistemi".