Italia farà da sè - a rallying cry in March 1848 but today ?

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Italia farà da sè - a rallying cry in March 1848 but today ?

Much has been written about the reckless promises made by the Italian parties who, taken together, gained a slim majority of the popular vote – 33% for 5 Stars and 17.5% for the League (a majority of 33 In the 630 strong-Lower House Camera but only of 10 in the 318 strong-Upper House Senate), doing so on entirely different electoral basis, splitting the country neatly in half, the northern provinces supporting the League and the southern provinces the Five Star movement

March 2018 Elections Source: @FT
March 2018 Elections Source: @FT

We see no reason to ponder on the improbable agendas, if taken literally - flat tax of 15% on business and 15-20% for individuals, minimum guaranteed revenue of 780€ a month paid to those with no revenue (or topped up), roll-back of retirement age, full nationalization of failed Monte dei Paschi bank, cancelation of sale of failed airline Alitalia …and a batch of anti-immigration measures to top-off the brew

Measures increasing internal demand, as stated in the government program, such as the 5 Star signature ‘minimum revenue’ favoring the South and the flat tax on business, popularized by the League in the North, will probably take precedence

Essentially a stitch-up between parties eager to grab the power at hand, implementation will stretch into the future as the hard act of governing hits home, and responsible choices will have to be arbitraged

Amongst unknown unknowns, the frailty of the coalition and the European relationship may offer more clarity (relatively speaking) …


Frailty of the governing coalition - 5 Stars and the League

 

By entering in government with the League, 5 Stars makes a gamble that may come back to haunt its supporters

The power grab puts a lie to the supposedly ‘anti-party’ stance which drove Beppe Grillo, founder of 5 Star, to its current hold on the electoral vote

The association with the League, whose fascist roots are unmistakable, taints the party irremediably, to probably very great uneasiness of many of its supporters

History, and looming remembrance of a not so distant past, is locked down in the closet but, Italy being Italy, it would hardly be surprising if its lessons were'nt still to offer guidance

Ultimately, Beppe Grillo, who undoubtedly approved of the coalition, will keep his eyes stitched to his free-wheeling base and may end up deciding the extreme-right stain to his image is simply too high a price to pay…

Although entering the coalition as junior partner (with 6 ministers – for 9 to 5 Stars and 3 identified as ‘independent’), the League carries a lot of baggage and also many constraints : its Northern Industry electoral base should leave little room for the more extreme economic assertions

The March election put the potential break-up of Italy in stark light. Brought together around the Northern city of Turin by Cavour in the 1870’s, the country is young (a trait shared paradoxically with Germany, established by Otto von Bismarck around Prussian Berlin at the same time) and the election put its fragility in a harsh light

If anything marks a failed state, it would be its policies, either too feeble or too inept to bring the country together around shared values, to favor a degree of equal opportunity and to be equitable – step forward Italy, the angst-ridden South spiraling out of control and the economic powerhouse of the North, all eyes for European expansion

On a short leash, with a % representation of 17.5¨% which hardly stands out, an anti-euro stance which is squarely rejected by the Northern industrial heartland, and the challenging presence of Silvio Berlusconi’s rightwing Forza Italia (14% of the popular vote) looming in the wings, the League may end-up swallowing better pills

After all, 5 Stars is the king maker and does have the luxury of alternative coalition partners; already shedding some of its more farfetched ideas regarding the euro zone and with constraining rules written in the ultimately not-so-universal revenue, 5 Stars will soon be a very acceptable partner of the left-leaning Democratic Party of former Premier Matteo Renzi (18%)

Our follow-up article will discuss the fraught relationship with the European Union, as the immigration issue comes to a boil