What is Happening Here in Italy
I guess I have to report.
It is hard to keep up with Grillo. His position has totally changed twice since I wrote the post below. His current view is that the PD (which has an absolute majority in the lower house) should vote confidence in a prime minister from his brand new party. I think I will have a feater
Joe Cricket (Giuseppe Grillo translated)
Man covering Grillo is a full time job. I figured I should check what he said today. He has a new idea — Prime Minister Grillo so since the election (monday) he’s said
I’m going to start with new news from tomorrows paper (La Repubblica the least awful Italian newspaper). The election left a mess with no clear majority in the Senate (the prime minister must have the confidence of both the Senate and the chamber of deputies which are elected in completely different ways). What will happen is up to comedian & blogger Beppe Grillio. Yes a blogger (Italy’s number one blogger in traffic) has real power. The news is that he appears willing to vote confidence in Luigi Bersani the ex communist leader of the alliance which has an absolute majority in the chamber of deputies.
Following his thought is tricky, because he shouts a lot (think The Rude Pundit not say Ezra Klein). He leads a protest movement and voting for him was a way to tell the politicians to go to hell. Now they have to deal with him so they are in hell (OK it’s probably not good for the country but I sure am enjoying it). The hints that he will vote confidence in Bersani is that he praised the experience” in Sicily where his followers support a center left governor. He said that his vote (and that of his followers) will depend on the content of bills — that is he will accept no discipline (of course) but won’t always vote no. He mentioned two issues. One no supertrains (in Italy environmentalists hate the project for a high speed rail line). Two a guaranteed minimum income for all citizens (welfare on steroids and normal in normal European countreis). The first will happen because supertrains cost money (besides they are always talking about the high speed rail line and it is never built — because it would cost a lot of money).
My current guess is that there will be a Bersani government for a while, the Grillo will revolt (it’s what he does) and bring it down. It is possible that they will work together long enough to rewrite the electoral law so the subsequent election is actually decisive. I think it is also reasonably possible that they will do something about Silvio Berlusconi’s domination of TV. They hate him, but very serious people don’t change established economic facts or take on huge firms. Grillo might force the ex communists to reduce the immense power of Italy’s richest and most shameless capitalist.
OK background going all the way back to Monday.
In the recent parliamentary elections, Italians voted differently from what was guessed based on polls. The main message is that they hate austerity. Only around 10% voted for the party of Mario Monti the very eminent Eurocrat economist extremely serious person who had reassured investors that their money was safe in Italy. Monti did this partly by increasing the real estate tax. This was very unpopular. The alliance of the presumptive new prime minister Lugi Bersani, the PD-SEL, received the plurality of votes in both the election of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, but it’s performance was a very painful disappointment.
The PD-SEL includes and is mostly dominated by former Communists but includes fragments of the old non communist non-fascist parties (Christian Democrats, Socialists, Social Democrats, Republicans and Liberals) and also the greens. Needless to say, the ex-communists are establishment moderates closely allied with Monti. They had the support of The Economist, the bankers and all very serious right thinking people, but not of most Italian people who are tired of parties whose main aim is to please bankers. I promise this paragraph is not a joke.
Appallingly Silvio Berlusconi’s party came in a very very close second (0.8% behind in popular vote in the senate election and 0.4% behind in the vote for the chamber of deputies). Italy has two different insane electoral laws for the chamber and the Senate. The insane law for the chamber was written by Berlusconi for his convenience and has twice kept him from power. What follows is not a joke. Alliances must be declared before the election. The alliance which gets a plurality automatically gets an absolute majority of seats in the chamber of deputies (and not a tiny one a majority with 30 votes to spare). This means that the 0.4% magin is enough that no one can be prime minister without the support of the PD-SEL. I think this means that Luigi Bersani will be prime minister. Oh he was chosen as the PD-SEL candidate in a primary (very new idea in Italy) so he can’t be pushed aside because of the disappointing election. It is absurd that 0.4% of the voters decide everything. The time before last 0.07% of the voters decided that Romano Prodi not Silvio Berlusconi would be prime minister. Recall the insane law was Berlusconi’s idea. He is, again, hoist on his own petard.
How did Berlusconi do it ? He promised to eliminate the real estate tax increase and rebate the money. He ran as an anti European populist.
OK but the real winner of the election was the blogger Grillo. The problem is that he is a protester protest candiate who screams a lot. Mostly he screams about crooked politicians making deals in smoke filled rooms. Now the country needs him to make deals in smoke filled rooms.
I really have no idea how it will turn out, but I’m sure it will be interesting.
I’ve read that Grillo’s movement supports a referendum on the euro (membership) and defaulting on the nation’s debt? (which Grillo mentions in his blog)
Can you confirm this? And will this lad to a stalemate in parliament tht will result in an end to the ECBs support?
Here in the US we are also tired of political parties whose main aim is to please bankers. Unfortunately, there are no viable alternatives to the Democrats and Republicans.
Good, informative, article. Thanks Robert