A government at work

Photo - Flickr
Photo - Flickr
25.07.2018

The Italian political elections of the past March 4th produced a coalition government between the Northern League of Matteo Salvini and the 5 Stars Movement. Despite the difficult start, also due to the interference of the European Commission and the comments of some MEPs from Northern Europe, the new government has fully established itself and has begun to administer our Italy. It is time for an initial assessment and Professor Gianfranco La Grassa has agreed to answer again some questions.

Q) The 5Stars - League government has now established itself. What do you think of this new executive and its components?

A) Honestly, those two political forces seem to me as having very different understandings. This has also been affirmed several times by both of them clarifying (at least in the way they think) the difference between alliance and contract. Lately, however, they often spread mutual congratulations, also declaring a great mutual regard, as great mutual trust, etc. The feeling is that - after about two months since the elections of March 4th and having been considered themselves fundamentally as the winners of the elections - they decided that it was good to do somehow a government, otherwise the voters would have felt disappointed and unmotivated again. However, I note that there are significant differences in terms of immigration, tax exemption, citizenship income and others. Furthermore, it seems to me that Prime Minister Conte often has to mediate; and yet, at times, he even seems to express a third position, which takes a little from one and a little from the others, but without being real mediation and synthesis. In addition, the Minister of Economy (Mr. Tria) also seems to me to be different from both the ones; and sometimes I "confuse" (so to speak) him with Padoan [the former Minister of Economy in the past government]. I do not understand well if there is a specific tactic of the League, which continues to differentiate while maintaining the government standing and at the same time insists on maintaining relations with Forza Italia [Berlusconi’s party], while still declaring itself to be part of the center-right. We could also make some hypotheses, but honestly, it would be too long to expose them in their uncertainty. Let’s look for developments. I conclude by saying that I do not think about a long duration of the Government. Five years seems to me an affirmation to which they do not believe it either, I am sure. I would be inclined for a short time, until the next Europeans elections [May 2019] or so.

Q) Giuseppe Conte prime minister: class, posture, preparation. More than his former predecessors. Has he also the other qualities a good head of government needs?

A) In the class in which I was born, I was very used to finding people with a class and a decidedly superior attitude (my father, for example, was nicknamed, by those who knew about literature, the "prince of Salina"). I do not discuss the preparation because I do not know what Conte knows. In any case, I have learned that the so-called "class" does not mean almost anything about the thickness and personality of that particular individual who possesses it. This prime minister seems to me to be chosen correctly to try to navigate between rather different positions you try not to contrast, at least for a certain period of time, when both "government" will try to buy new electoral consensus (however, with dangers of losing them). None of the two forces in the government, however, seems to me that it would need our country now very "fallen" and socially in clear disintegration; this is not how the "infection" represented by piddioti[a slang: Italian Democratic party stupid people] and berluscones[Berlusconi’s people] can be remedied. However, both seem to me to represent the stalemate in which we continue to remain.

Q) Luigi di Maio Minister of Labor.The Decree Dignity was one of the electoral promises of the 5Stars: do you think there are the conditions for a revenge of the workers in Italy and a revival of the economy of our country?

A) I do not understand how one can even mention a "revenge of the workers". These rulers, at most, want (but in a "light" and "rarefied" way) to maintain the "old" trade-union achievements and a certain standard of living (not simply in "materials" terms) now in decline for years. Without a doubt, there are elements of positivity in hindering precarious work and in denouncing that the "fabulous" increases in employment concern only this type of work; in one of the last ISTAT surveys it appeared that permanent work represented only 5% of the so-called employment increase. In fact, it is only revealed in passing and rarely that in recent years employment has increased and the total hours worked have decreased (even with an hour a day you are considered as employed). Ridiculous is to continue to argue that temporary work and insecurity are not the same thing. I do not think the difference is much felt, for those who receive a few hundred euro a month (when it's ok). However, I believe that policies of strong relaunch of scientific-technical research and very strategic sectors (to be held firmly under Italian control) are needed. The employment problem can not be resolved with temporary patches and, by itself, does not really re-launch the country on the international scene, the actual agon where the knots of its independence or final subordination will melt; and therefore also those of our situation in terms not only economic.

Q) But Di Maio already speaks of "sabotage by the lobbies" against his decree ...

A) I would not speak simply of lobbies. All the old establishment (including the EU and not just the Italian one) - with all the "big industrialists" and their "hack-reporters" in tow - is antagonistic to this government, considered one of the forces that are mounting throughout Europe to contest it ; ridiculously defined "populist" forces (sometimes, more sincerely, fascist or Nazi). All this happens concurrently (I do not know if as a real effect) of the hard struggle in the United States. The old EU establishment (and logically also the Italian one, fully represented politically by piddiotiand berluscones) is anchored to the US pre-Trump. It is in this wider context that the moves of the different and poor political forces in Italy must be located and evaluated.

Q) Matteo Salvini, Interior Minister: he expressed very harsh words against mafia and illegal immigration. In your opinion, what will be the limits of the new strongman of the League?

A) It is not yet clear what is tactical (and yet transitory) and how much is real conviction in the attitude of the League (under the leadership of the current undisputed leader, but who must well watch his backs). The most obvious limit is in the usual support "small is beautiful", to the "made in Italy" (fashion, agricultural products even if industrialized, culinary, tourism, etc.). In short, looking for votes, we focus on the medium and small business, trying to reconcile with various balances (see the matter of vouchers) the interests of these entrepreneurs and workers. There is no real strategic vision of Italian industry (with strong control and revival of the State-owned one). I am not able to follow thoroughly the current question of the various appointments in the various local establishments; however, it seems to me that many men of the "past" are placed again. "Change" could only remain a slogan. A real change can never be achieved with the eye obsessively turned to the polls. The advent of those political forces that the supporters of the Italian subordination call "anti-democratic" would be needed.

Q) The one in charge is a coalition government and yet has already set foot on some issues during the European meetings. A real change compared to the past. Germany, France and other Nations of Europe will have many other surprises or not?

A) I repeat that it all depends on the clash in the United States and on how the anti-EU political forces (anti-current EU) will act on our continent. And I repeat that nothing will be done with electoral campaigns (although permanent). Undoubtedly, the relationship with Russia is very important (very contradictory and contrasted); particular importance must also be given to relations with sub-powers such as Iran, Turkey and, of course, Israel. And then the multipolar clash in certain critical areas like Syria or Ukraine and so on. The same immigration phenomenon - an effect not precisely desired, but anyway caused by the politics of the chaos of obamian memory - is one of the variables at stake.

Q) In other words: it is not up to us Italians to save Deutsche Bank...

A) On this I can not really give any answer. Of course, it is not up to us to save this bank, but I did not follow this kind of problems at all.

Q) The behavior of the President of the Republic, Mattarella, and the interference of the European Commission had opened unpleasant scenarios in the immediate post elections. Do you think that those scenarios have disappeared or remain in the background, waiting to manifest again?

A) Mattarella was from the Christian Democrat "left" in the first Republic. After the fall of it, he has always been in the side formed precisely by the Democratic Party with all its various components. Let us not forget that his election characterized not by chance the rupture of the "pact of the Nazarene" between Renzi and Berlusconi because Berlusconi wanted to be elected Giuliano Amato (and I must say, in this case, that it was an "escaped danger" ). Needless to say that the President of the Republic must represent the whole country and therefore the political forces that is claimed, wrongly, represent it. Logically, he act with caution, avoiding the dismay of partisan positions, but he can never completely hide his "predispositions" for a side. Mattarella makes no exception and he could not make it. I repeat that nobody is able to completely silence his own ideological-political choices. Even between the two government forces, it seems clear to me his preference (or at least a more moderate "non-preference") for the "5 stars" which, not surprisingly, were almost concluding a government agreement with the piddioti; only the abrupt intervention of Renzi made this intention fail. Once the alleged contract between the 5Stars and the League was signed, Mattarella had to accept the situation created, however reluctantly and in any case putting his nose in the question of the Minister of Economy; blocking the appointment of Savona and favoring that of Tria (which to me appears not too far from the behavior of a Padoan). For the moment, the President must act as a spectator (as far as we can see and know), but also on immigration seems to have made me understand how he thinks against the Interior Minister. I believe that, as far as he can and without overdoing it in the openly partisan sense, he will always be favorable to the conclusion (and failure) of the current government experiment.

Q) One last question: what geopolitical future do you see for Italy, between Putin's Russia and Donald Trump's United States?

A) With the forces currently in the field, I see no real liberation of our country from the "Western camp", good or bad subordinated to the US. The League, the only one I think, shows some openness to Russia, but takes as an excuse the damage that sanctions against that country bring to our economy. Obviously, we must always put in the forefront - to understand what is happening in Europe and in Italy - the very hard confrontation, as already noted, between two strategies (or tactics, but not short-term) advocated by the US establishment (which expressed itself, with minimal modifications, in the alternative of Republicans and Democrats to the government and the presidency) and from that, quite different, personified by Trump. However, only fools have interpreted the "America first" of Trump as an isolationist intention. It is simply the belief that the old strategy has in fact produced fairly negative results; and therefore a new one is proposed to affirm the US world supremacy. To achieve results in this new direction, it is imperative to undermine the old "pro-European" leadership linked to the past (but not defeated, let alone clear) leadership of the superpower. In this sense, new forces are also emerging in European countries that challenge those always in power (with the inessential alternation between "right" and "left") for decades and decades. Even the Trump’s contestation of the too few European contributions to NATO (and the threat of making it inoperative) are part of this clash, which must be followed carefully because it is nevertheless something really new in the very unimaginable landscape of European subordination since the end of the Second World War world. Evidently, we begin to realize (in the US above all) that something more effective is needed in view of an increasingly accentuated multipolarism. The same bipolar system - despite the deformed prospect of the "cold war", which has never been as dangerous as it was shown - was ultimately very useful for substantial American dominance. That story (1945-89 / 91), altered by false or incompetent "commentators", will have to be completely revised in a new key. It is precisely from the end of the supposedly "socialist" system and the dissolution of the USSR that an international framework has begun, slowly and now more and more rapidly, which puts the US predominance in real discussion. Hence, the clash in progress, which will be increasingly clear even if the project behind the Trump presidency should have been defeated. If such a defeat occurs, then that complex of European forces, in still confused gestation, which are defined as "populist", will then be in difficulty. The discourse can only be mentioned here, but we are nevertheless entering a new era with features not yet defined with sufficient clarity. This clash - which is in fact global in scope, even if it has different characteristics in different geographic-socio-political areas - must be well interpreted in all its evolutions, very variable in the context of a more and more marked imbalance.

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Link to the video on YouTube (Italian Only):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9e7YJZRHiOI

Costantino Ceoldo – Pravda freelance