Italy’s Uncertainty

14 Feb 2017

Italy’s uncertain political situation undermines the basics of democracy.




Why is it happening ?

It is well known that Italy’s political situation is not among the optimistic ones. Italy’s debt is yet huge and the Italian government is not able to pay it back at the moment—it has shown several times how incapable it is to face difficult situations. The Italian political class is one of the most corrupted in Europe: Italian political representatives have the highest wages in Europe, yet they are unable to form a reasonable financial act in order to direct public spending the right way.


In addition, the government has decided to pay €20 billion to Italian banks, hugely indebted, instead of obliging the richest entrepreneurs and real estate attorneys to pay their debts to the banks. The Monte Dei Paschi Di Siena (Mps) Bank debt amounts to €47 million. Italian political responsibility does not depend on only one political wing, but on both the left and the right of the spectrum. Unfortunately, the Mps is deeply politicized—and this is the result.


Nevertheless, the Minister of Economy and Finance, Mr Pier Carlo Padoan (on the picture above) does not admit the economic problem, asserting that the Italian banking system is improving. In addition, he is confident that economic growth is moving ahead. He defends government action towards the Mps, explaining that it is now stable and that its problems have been confronted in accordance with EU norms.




Why does it matter?

According to the IMF and the World Economic Outlook, Italy has become 37th in the World GDP (PPP) ranking, overcome by Spain, Malta, and Puerto Rico. While Spain has succeeded in taking off, Italy’s economic situation is stagnant and getting worse. This is a reflection of an unstable political situation which lasts since the financial crisis of 2011. It is becoming ever graver due to the incapacity of the Italian political elite, which is not actually elected by Italian citizens. For example, the actual Prime Minister, Mr Paolo Gentiloni is mandated by the President of the Republic and was not voted for by elections.


According to the leader of the anti-establishment, Eurosceptic Five Star Movement (M5s), Beppe Grillo, this government is illegitimate, since it has been elected without the willing of the Italian voters. In reality, the Prime Minister is elected by the parliamentary majority that indicates who the suitable political leader should be. Additionally, the actual Prime Minister is the continuity of the last chairmanship. In fact, the great majority of the Italian population (80%) asserts that these last two governments are practically the same and expresses clear dissatisfaction with both.


It can be seen that frequent government crises of the recent years and political incompetence undermine both the basics of democracy and economic and financial stability of Italy. Deeply integrated in the EU, Italy’s problems could destabilize European norms and economics.


What can you do about it?

How long will this unstable situation last? Italian citizens want elections as soon as possible. It is probable that they would opt for the new party of the Five Star Movement, which is the expression of dissatisfaction of Italian citizens about the unstable political-economic situation. The Five Star Movement aims at challenging the current status quo of the corrupt and self-serving elites, offering angry Italians something different from the two previous coalition governments. According to Mr Grillo, Italy should follow the example of protectionist economic measures driven by U.S. President Trump’s economic policy. He argues that it is the right way to defend and promote the concept of ‘Made in Italy’. It is time for Italian citizens to take their political fate in their hands, stand up for their democratic rights and pressure a freely elected government to fix the broken financial dynamics of the country.




Image Credit: Politico

Giulia Ciriachi briefs from Rome, Italy. She is a candidate for a Master of Science in International Political Economy and Development.


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