Sputnik talked about the government crisis in Italy with Lode Vanoost, political analyst and former deputy speaker of the Belgian parliament.
Sputnik: Let’s look at the situation in Italy, President Mattarella said that appointing Paolo Savona, who has called Italy’s entry into the euro a historic mistake, would’ve scared off foreign investors, in your view, how will the appointment of Carlo Cottarelli, a former International Monetary Fund official, help Italy’s economy?
Lode Vanoost: Well there’s several things that you can say, first of all, the reason why the president denied the formation of the government and this minister of economy Mr. Savona, and the reasons that were not seen as the reasons to not accept this government, apparently, for the president of Italy it’s not acceptable to have a minister that is sceptical of the Eurozone construction, but it’s not a problem that this government would have further demolished the social welfare state, would have made taxes for big companies even smaller than they already are, so that the state doesn’t have an income anymore to pay for its services, and it was also not a problem for the president that this government is planning to build, what they call themselves, concentration camps for refugees. Apparently, those are not problems, but what is a problem is that there would be a minister who is critical, although he already accepted and even the parties involved had already accepted several concessions towards Eurozone. That they would not, for example, call for a referendum on staying in the euro or not. So what this means is you can agree with the parties that now have a majority to form a government or not, which is a totally different issue from the fact that they have been elected. I think what this means is that the European institutions say no, elections are not relevant to whatever policies is going to be installed, you can choose whoever you want, but the policies are fixed in stone and if you try to deviate even in the smallest way, then we will not accept it.
Now the thing is, of course, that these parties, who have never been in government and are quite new, they use quite strong language, for example, they say they want to impeach the president. First of all, the impeachment of a president is not something that's done just overnight, there’s several procedures to follow and they already know that they do not have the preferred majority in parliament to do so, but threatened to do so and gives the Italian public the impression that they show their teeth.
The thing is, of course, you do not need to impeach the president to have new elections. If the proposed Prime Minister, Carlo Cottarelli, the former IMF person, is going to propose this at the parliament they're going to vote and then there’s a certain amount of weeks, if there's no government formed, automatically there will be elections again. So it’s being portrayed as though you need to impeach the president in order to have new elections, but that’s not really actually necessary, it’s all part of the political game, but basically what it means is that these parties that are now trying to form a government will even gain and the situation will be even worse, and probably in September there will be new elections.
For the moment what this means is, regardless of what you think of the policy that they choose, the European institutions are telling a big member-state that, no, you are not free to choose your own form of government, we decide that. And then to even name someone from the IMF, that international institution which is responsible for so much neoliberal, anti-social reforms, but what is in fact a massive shift of all the wealth of the country to the upper scales of society. What you do is, something is going wrong, and then you choose someone who is responsible for everything that went wrong to form a new government, it’s almost absurd but that’s reality at the moment in Italy and most of the European Union at the moment.
Sputnik: It’s certainly been a hugely protracted crisis, political, constitutional. What are the main disagreements between the parties over the formation of the government in Italy? Why has it all bogged down into this mire of problems that nobody seems to be able to untangle?
Lode Vanoost: Actually to say that this crisis is a surprise, no, this was a long time coming. What you see is the collapse of everything that is on the left side of the political spectrum, or on the social-progressive side of the political spectrum. If you look at how people vote in Italy there’s a total distrust of, first of all, of the old traditional parties that have always shared or had power alternatively, and a total collapse of the left side spectrum of politics in Italy, which basically means that people have a choice between putting the best and […] to choose from, and then they will, indeed, choose those who are more or less say whatever people like to hear, when everything is blamed on refugees, which is not to say that the refugee problem is something that should be denied, it is a major problem, but whether that it is the problem that is responsible for everything that’s going wrong at the moment that is exactly what is going wrong. Now these parties, you should not forget, they have no stake in political stability over the traditional statesmanship. They just don’t care about these things. They’re new in politics, so they do not abide by, the so-called, unwritten rules of politics as it was before.
You should also not forget that politics in Italy have always been tainted by corruption and scandals over the last 40-50 years, this is not something new, of course, as long as the economy was more or less functioning, this was considered as something that could be dealt with but in certain limits, but now if this crisis goes on the whole Italian economy might collapse. This is totally unseen in European and Italian history.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.