Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Italy under the forced administration of Brussels


Photo: Personal archive / Mojca Širok

Italy is too big to let go of ruin, and at the same time always comfortably positioned enough at the table of the chiefs to openly humiliate it. When the financial crisis devastated European economies ten years ago, Italy did not get the infamous troika that drank the blood of Greece. She was politely advised to find her at home.

The then Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, the great clown of European politics, who, however, may turn out to be even a polite statesman compared to the new political actors today, had to leave.

He came Mario Monti.

I remember the summer and fall months of 2011 like it was yesterday. It is boiling in Italy. Stockbrokers scrambled Italian securities to be almost just in the trash, interest rates soared, the English word “spread,” the difference in yields between German and Italian ten-year bonds, became as domestic as it was in Italian homes. macaroni.

Italy, one of the world’s seven industrial powers but one of the highest in the world’s public debt, was on the verge of collapsing under pressure from international financial markets, which relied on predictions that Greece, Ireland and Portugal, is now slipping into a debt spiral. The values ​​of Italian borrowing reached such record highs that the increase in interest rates on Italian public debt alone, according to analyzes, offset almost a quarter of the expected effect of the austerity package adopted by the Berlusconi government in early summer.

Brussels called for anti-crisis measures, and envoys from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the World Monetary Exchange exchanged in Rome and studied the state of Italian public finances.

In October, the Italians got a muffin that had been baking for a long time. At a press conference after the European Union summit, German Chancellor Merkel and then-French President Sarkozy flirted when asked about Berlusconi’s commitment to reform and smiled so meaningfully that the whole hall burst into laughter.

It was clear as day that Berlusconi would not be around for long. In early November, three years after celebrating a devastating majority in parliamentary elections, after three years of lawsuits and sex scandals, after more than fifty parliamentary votes were won, and after his corporation Mediaset lost 12 in a single day. percent of value, fell because parliament refused to support him.

Mario Monti, his professorial appearance, his cumbersome appearance, his green coat from the lodge became symbols of the new Italy.

“We got babysitters. Italy is like a little girl, very smart, beautiful, brilliant, full of imagination, but she’s also terrible if she wants to. She needs babysitters and they came. German-Italian – Merkel and Mario Draghi at the helm of the European Central Bank – the second Franco-Portuguese, a little Barroso, a little Sarkozy, from Brussels and the third from Washington, the International Monetary Fund, they were the ones who said: enough, that’s not going to happen anymore, they actually appointed a commissioner. caregiver, because Italy is also old and immobile and like any elderly immobile person needs a caregiver. It’s very sad, but things have to be called by their real names, “ A few months after the fall of Berlusconi’s government, a Corriere della Sera journalist described a coup in the top of the government Beppe Severgnini.

Dream Seller: What Silvio Berlusconi promised the Italians

The years that followed were years of blood and tears for Italy, sharp austerity cuts in all pores of public systems and brutal interventions in the pension system and labor law.
Italy did not need a troika. Everything was taken care of by her own Super Mario.

But it didn’t help much. Actually nothing. Economic growth continued to move from zero. With a greedy state apparatus and high public spending, public debt continued to rise. Structural reforms continued to be mere blows from lengthy political debates.

Monti soon lost popularity among the people, with clumsy politicking, ignorance of the art of party juggling, as well as reputation. The Italians, who, after years of Berlusconi’s spectacles, admired the humble and reserved professor in the green lodge, were now mocking him.

The 2013 parliamentary elections brought the rise of the Five Star Movement, which shattered post-war political bipolarity to the left and right of the center. In 2018, the strongest party became the Matteo Salvini League. In 2011, then known as the Northern League and another leadership, it was the only parliamentary party that did not support Monti’s government, saying it wanted to work for the benefit of banks and large European countries instead of the people.

Last week, Salvini and his government supported Mario Draghi.

Mario Draghi. In the last thirty years, a fourth technocrat at the head of the Italian government and a third banker. In 1993, after the collapse of the lira, Italy was rescued by former Governor of the Bank of Italy Carlo Azeglio Ciampi. In 1994, after the fall of Berlusconi’s first government, former CEO of the Bank of Italy Lamberto Dini.

Now it’s the turn of the new Super Mario. He has been referred to in Italy for the last ten years as the dominoes of political bargaining have been mentioned as a man with a magic wand who will conjure up the necessary structural reforms to strengthen the competitiveness of the economy: judicially.

He has the entire political spectrum behind him except dissidents from the Five Star Movement and the far right. Three of his ministers, Renato Brunetta, Mariastella Gelmini and Mara Carfagna, were also ministers in Silvio Berlusconi’s last government.

“The Italian treasury loses 30 billion euros a year, or two percent of its gross domestic product, just by evading value added tax,” I reported from Rome in June 2010.

Because this is what Mario Draghi said at the presentation of the central bank’s annual report at the time. In total, according to the Bank of Italy, Italians evade 120 billion euros in taxes a year. “If we fail to curb tax evasion, we will not drive economic growth and we will not escape the social slaughterhouse,” warned the then first banker in the country in an unusually colorful language. And for the first time, he linked the problem of political corruption and organized crime to the problem of public finances. Corrupt relations between private individuals and public administration, which in some cases are also supported by organized crime, are widespread, he said, the cost of tax evasion and corruption is becoming increasingly unbearable, stagnation is destroying human capital, especially among young people.

Super Mario knows well what the biggest problem of modern Italy is. But he rarely talks about it very loudly. In his speeches in the Senate and Chamber of Deputies last week, he merely mentioned the fight against the mafia, corruption and tax evasion.

Italy will receive the most from the European Pandemic Recovery Fund among the 27 countries; it will have 210 billion in cheap loans and grants available over the next six years. A prey that many are vying for and that Brussels did not want to entrust to the elected political representatives of the Italian people.

He will be guarded by Super Mario. And many are wondering how they managed to convince him.

Every time my Roman friends share destructive opinions about Italian politics and society, they disarm me at the end of every hot debate with the words: “Ah, Moika, we are a nation of fools, thieves and lizards, but in no working and thrifty north is there so much magical energy, brilliant creators, and anarchoid geniuses as here.”

In which category is Super Mario?

(Mojca Širok is a postcard from Brussels. Between 1999 and 2003 and 2007 and 2016 she was a postcard from Italy and the Vatican.)

Editorial notice:

The opinion of the author does not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial boards of RTV Slovenia.





#Italy #forced #administration #Brussels

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