Three weeks after the elections, we (in Italy) are still sailing blindly on a leaky boat without a rudder. To paraphrase Soren Kierkegaard, the ship is in the hands of the galley storekeeper and what is being broadcast over the P.A. system is not the route but tomorrow’s menu. In that sense, President Napolitano has expressed his fears saying that: the urgent issues, and the fundamental questions regarding the economy, society and the state can’t wait any longer. They must be addressed, and therefore they require that Italy give herself a government, and make a serious cohesive effort.
Sure, we all agree; but, in view of the current conditions, we really can’t see a way out. We tried to analyze the situation with the editorialist of Il Corriere della Sera, Mr. Piero Ostellino.
How do you evaluate President Napolitano’s words?
Well, the reasons why we don’t have a government are pretty obvious: the results of the elections made it so that the forces in play are not in the least homogeneous. The country is divided in three parts, and nobody is willing to make a deal with the others.
Is this a position dictated by mere party interest, or is there anything else?
Everyone is minding his own interest, that is clear. Undoubtedly, the two major parties are convinced that, if they struck an alliance, at the next elections Grillo would get 60% of the votes instead of just 25%.
President Napolitano has also expressed the fear that, while we’re waiting for a new government, we will remain at the mercy of the vagaries of the economic crisis.
Belgium was without a government for a long time, but they resisted quite well.
Can we be compared to Belgium?
You see, considering that the past administrations, Mr. Monti’s to begin with, put in place just a series of freedom-killing rules, it may be better to be without a government. Moreover, normally, the least a government does the freer a country is.
In what way could our economic fabric recover on its own?
It would require a parliamentary initiative that engaged in a radical regulatory and administrative simplification, to free the forces of the country from all those constrictions that prevent Italy from expressing herself. We suffer from an excess of bureaucratization, prohibitions, permits, licenses and so on and so forth, which don’t allow us to grow. Even without a government, the parliamentary assembly can still fully exercise its functions, therefore it could pass laws.
How are we going to deal with the yield spread? Would the markets understand such a situation?
The credit spread is a function of the European equilibrium, and it doesn’t only depend on our domestic situation.
What will happen?
Sooner or later will get to some sort of government; but it’ll be short-lived. What is certain is that if we go to the polls in these conditions, the M5S will double their votes. Mr. Grillo knows very well he shouldn’t ally with anyone but instead let the others be free to do what they want and better his approval.
What do you think of the M5S?
Mr. Grillo and his followers might represent for Italy what Algeria represented for France. That is, the factor which allowed the French to transition from the fourth to the fifth republic. In the worst scenario, they will represent such a degeneration of the political process to render Italy like Germany was right before the fall of the Weimar Republic. In any case, this system can not go on as it is. We have a constitution that became effective in 1948 and was written on the basis of the political culture of those years. Every liberal democracy is founded on the freedom and on the individual rights of the citizens, not on “labor,” which in itself doesn’t mean anything.
If Mr. Grillo won’t back anyone, aren’t we left with an alliance between PD and PdL?The PdL could even agree to that, but the PD made it clear that they will never form an alliance with them. They gave a very curious explanation: they don’t want to deal with Mr. Berlusconi, but because he has no intention to step aside, they fault him for the impossibility of building an alliance. Obviously they skipped a passage in their logic. In any case, in a situation such as this, it is impossible to make any predictions on the future government coalition.
Piero Ostellino is an Italian political scientist, and a journalist, who writes for the Italian daily newspaper Il Corriere della Sera. He was interviewed on 3/9/2013 by Paolo Nessi, for the daily on-line publication Il Sussidiario.