Sunday, March 3, 2013

Grillo's Zombies

"You are a Dead Man talking!" - said Beppe Grillo to Pierluigi Bersani who had asked for M5S support for a legislative platform that included some of Grillo's pet initiatives. Admittedly Bersani is a lugubrious, funereal figure, totally un-charismatic, indeed "de-tumescing", to use a term coined by a former Cambridge colleague to damn Tony Giddens, then a candidate to College high office . After all, Bersani now demands respect, after calling Grillo "a Web fascist", which is worse and unwarranted. The 5 Star Movement is marked for its non-fascist, non racialist, non right-on rightist stance. And Bersani has been utterly inconsistent: he criticised Mario Monti, but aided and abetted his disastrous recessionary policies for fourteen months. A Bersani-led Democratic Party was only stopped from forming a new government with him by Monti's electoral debacle.

The problem is that Beppe Grillo is treating his brand new, clean and youthful 54 Senators and 109 "Onorevoli deputati" (or rather "citizens", as he wants them to be called, rejecting traditional titles), precisely like Zombies. "We will not give a vote of confidence to any government, let alone a PD-PDL government: we will vote on a law by law basis, according to our programme". Which is plainly silly: the M5S 163 parlamentarians will not get an opportunity to vote law by law unless there is a government in power that commands a confidence vote in both houses. The 163 citizen are turned by Grillo into Dead Men Who Do NOT talk.
 
Frozen, hibernated, silenced, ready to be resurrected only to leave their respective Houses when Parliament is soon going to be dissolved. A rather inglorious end to such an extraordinary, auspicious, revolutionary success. And when new elections are called, the protest voters that concentrated on Beppe Grillo on 24-25 February, now frustrated by the complete waste of their votes, will turn back to traditional parties, most probably PDL that will also drain some of Monti's support - unless the magistrates send Berlusconi to jail.  

Grillo's suggestion, of forming a government on his own, with the confidence vote support of PD and PDL, is as much of a non-starter as Bersani's offer to Grillo of a PD government with M5S support on specific policies plucked from their programme. What is needed is effective power sharing, with a precise division of Ministries, not the unaccountable, unspecified support for policies presumed to be jointly desired (how many? to what extent? accompanied by what else?). Grillo seems to favour a PD-PDL "Governissimo" which would not last long and cause the PD to lose half of their electorate (as happened to the Left in Greece and in Spain). D'Alema would pay this high price, for it is the only government which would give him office. Napolitano and Veltroni would, out of concern for Italy's stability and place in Europe, but Bersani and his cronies are unlikely to bite. 

Nevertheless, there are three tenuous prospects for a way out of this unprecedented constitutional crisis.

First, last Friday Dario Fo - Grillo's stated candidate as Napolitano's successor, though unavailable - said that there is a possibility of a deal with the PD under the leadership of someone other than Bersani (Matteo Renzi? Fabrizio Barca? Dario Fo did not say). Earlier on the same day Massimo D'Alema had already said, on television, that if Grillo sets this condition it should be immediately accepted.
 
Second, the 163 parlamentarians treated like Zombies by Grillo are nothing of the kind. Leading personalities are emerging within their group, and they are a diverse and articulate lot. They do not have to revolt, they can simply ignore the attempts to make them do as they are told. Give them a taste of Roman parliamentary life, and they will prefer to stay on rather than to return to the provinces.

Finally, it might actually dawn on Beppe Grillo that rejecting the opportunity to change, at last, some of the fundamental ills of Italian political life might actually jeopardise his current command of the protest vote. He simply will not get a second chance.

31 comments:

Nicola Rubino said...

Perception of italian elections here in Germany seem to me pretty unclear. People who normally read german newspapers or the economist would normally come up with a very negative idea about the outcome of the italian elections ("the two clowns" that's how they named Berlsuconi and Grillo). What really bothers me is how every logical conclusion in mittel-europe would normally see Monti as the saviour of the italian people and any other party as uncapable of coming up with a clear solution to the current state of the nation. One thing is sure, the degree of uncertainty regarding the outcome of the voting remains very high outside europe. Do you think a large coalition (even one unheard of) might be a good solution?

D. Mario Nuti said...

A grand coalition requires a significant common ground and purpose, and honest and competent leaders.

A leader indicted for buying a senator for three million euro, violating electoral silence accusing the magistrature of being a mafia, and promising to return a tax on the first home that he and his party had approved, is an unsuitable bedfellow.

So is a leader who twice in government failed to address the conflict of interest, to reform an electoral system designed to be undemocratic to the point of making the country ungovernable, and endorsing a ruinuous mix of austerity and so-called structural reforms.

Dio li fa e poi li accoppia.

Nicola Rubino said...

I see. I had some time to think about Mario Monti in particular. I can more or less remember, one year and a half ago, when he talked about raising the share's of direct taxation on higher incomes and making the financial markets overall more efficient by a thoughtful control of capital requirements and interests on deposits.
All we are left with now is the aftermath of the ruinous mix you were talking about.

Now the question is: Don't you feel like something actually happened to Mr Monti that changed his opinion since he first became prime minister?
Is this perhaps just an effect of him idea of efficiency (towards the committment to the Euro Area) prevailing over equality and moderation?

Alberto Chilosi said...

Mario Monti ha avuto come incarico di evitare che i tassi di interesse sul debito italiano si mantenessero su livelli insostenibili. E questo obbiettivo l' ha raggiunto. Nel giudicare la sua opera occorre considerare i vincoli (anche politici data la sua maggioranza) in cui si veniva a trovare. Mario Nuti non ci dice come la cosiddetta "austerità" poteva essere mitigata e chi avrebbe dato a Monti i fondi per spendere di più o tassare di meno e a quali condizioni. E' facile criticare l' austerità e protestare contro i vincoli di bilancio, qualunque essi siano, più difficile è indicare chi sarebbe stato disposto a finanziare un ulteriore gioco nostrano alla Ponzi. La maggiore responsabilità di Monti sta nell' aver fatto una campagna elettorale di squallida banalità, con finali poco credibili premesse di riduzione di tasse future, facendosi battere peraltro alla grande nel gioco delle false promesse di chi aveva molto meno remore e più fantasia, invece di cercare di spiegare alla gente i termini reali della questione.

Alberto Chilosi said...

By chance I was able to watch Grillo's interview at the World Service of the BBC. Grillo was very lucid and outspoken of his intentions: he would push the Pd to make a government with Berlusconi barring any other solution involving his movement. Such a government would bring the PD into disrepute with its left wing supporters who would vote for Grillo at the next general elections, giving to his movement an outright majority in both houses of the Italian parliament. It is the old strategy of "tanto peggio tanto meglio" adapted to the new circumstances. As to ministerial sharing and a joint government, Grillo has refuted all the proposals of power sharing, dubbing them as "staking". It is the alliance PD-Pdl that he is pushing for, this, together with more invevitable "austerity" would bring him to power in the new general elections seen as inevitable soon. But apparently the PD is not falling into the trap. Wonder what Napolitano is going to do.

Nicola Rubino said...

Ma le persone, Professor Chilosi, avrebbero capito un accenno seppur minimo a vincoli di bilancio, credibilità esterna, criteri di convergenza ed un ragionamento, seppur minimo, sugli effetti di un differenziale elevato dei tassi di interesse?

Come politico Monti immagino abbia capito che le scelte di austerity sono sempre impopolari, ma che allo stesso tempo cercare di spiegare in termini di efficienza economica l'attuale situazione all'uomo della strada non avrebbe creato che ulteriore confusione.

Ciò che l'elettore italiano ha voluto vedere fino alla fine è stata la mancanza di equità della manovra di Monti. Non pensa?

Alberto Chilosi said...

Quello che avrebbe dovuto spiegare Monti erano le conseguenze pratiche di una fuoriuscita dall' Euro. Quello che sarebbe successo al potere di acquisto dei salari e delle pensioni, all' occupazione, ai risparmi, alla vita pratica di tutti i giorni in un contesto di fallimento del sistema bancario e di esclusione dal mercato unico europeo. Poteva far riferimento al "corralito" e al "coralon" argentino, misure che furono prese in un contesto molto più favorevole del nostro, in quanto si trattò semplicemente di rompere l' aggancio di una moneta già esistente al dollaro e non introdurne una nuova, e al precipitare del 57% degli argentini al di sotto del livello di povertà. Per quanto riguarda la manovra di Monti, tutte le manovre che colpiscono gli apparenti interessi e redditi di qualcuno vengono percepite come ingiuste e inique da chi le subisce. Ma dove il problema sta nel fatto che un paese vive al disopra dei propri mezzi e si trova sull' orlo dell' insolvenza i redditi e gli interessi di qualcuno è inevitabile che vengano colpiti. Quello che doveva spiegare Monti, e non credo che fosse così difficile, era perchè era inevitabile farlo e di chi era la responsabilità della situazione in cui ci si era venuti a trovare.

Anonymous said...

Last disastrous elections’ outcome was only the emerging symptom of a long and never cured disease afflicting the Italian democratic political forces. Within the Democratic Party, recent decisive mistakes have been made well before the elections. The Secretary, Mr Bersani, and the now-in-power (ever-in-power?) Party Committee have systemically ignored the strong requests for change arising from their electorate. The “Primarie” elections, which apparently led Mr Bersani to win the promised future leadership of Italy, were telling. It came up that an unexpected mass of votes went to Mr Renzi but nevertheless every single call for change has been ignored.

Now, it is too little too late trying to arrange old-style compromises with political forces which, leaving aside any political or moral argument, have the main drawback of relying only upon the mind of a single man, be him Mr Grillo or Mr Berlusconi. A way out of an “unprecedented constitutional crisis” calls for an unprecedented political drift. Within the Democratic Party, a new course of political action is urged. Mr Bersani should quit and pass the Party leadership to someone else, someone capable of turning Italy into a civilised country by making possible a “modern” deal with M5S. For a number of reasons, I believe that it is neither advisable for Italy nor convenient for Mr Renzi himself to be left with the leadership at this moment. So, the new leader should be found elsewhere within the Party but has to be found as soon as possible.

A modern deal with the Democratic Party is both possible and convenient for M5S. Mr Grillo also has some relevant problems. You detected the crucial one: his naïve perception of the elected M5S “citizens” as zombies. I would add to this the nature of M5S present electorate. Mr Berlusconi‘s electorate is more various than believed and I suspect that many of it (among which the former Craxian socialists) turned to vote M5S just for the sake of preventing the Democratic Party’s victory and with total disregard for the revolution promised by Mr Grillo. Precisely the contamination of M5S’s electorate, artificially inflating the extent of political consensus gone to it (and underlying a not-so-brilliant future for the 5 Star Movement in case of imminent elections), may be another relevant problem Mr Grillo should be better to look at before excluding any modern deal with the Democratic Party.

Alice from Wonderland

D. Mario Nuti said...

Nicola: my excellent friend and former colleague Marcello de Cecco sent me a note on your first comment: the statement about the success of "two clowns" in the Italian election was made by no less than the German leader of the opposition Peer Steinbrueck, though our President Napolitano treated him as he deserved.

The President of Goldman Sachs also declared that Grillo's success was "very exciting", but coming from him this is understandable, for he wishes the Euro-area to collapse so that the dollar will return to being the only sovereign among currencies - until the arrival of the yuan, i.e. for at least the next ten years. Meanwhile the spread dance will allow him and all the other financial "delinquents" like him to conduct fat speculative operations such as to make even those of George Soros back in the good old times of 1992 pale into insignificance.

D. Mario Nuti said...

On your second comment, Nicola: certainly something changed Monti's mind during his premiership, between his promise to step down after his mission was accomplished, and his very recent decision to turn from technician to politician ("salire in politica").

Just what changed his mind is impossible to say. Perhaps the realisation of an unfinished job, for he had delivered austerity but neither growth nor equity. Or the fear that Berlusconi might take the country on a sure path to destruction. Or simply the excitement of exercising power.

His electoral defeat has blown his chances to succeed Napolitano, but probably raised those of succeeding von Rompuy.

D. Mario Nuti said...

Thanks to all for your comments, I am slowly catching up.

Alberto, the fall of the spread has little to do with Monti's austerity policies, which raised the debt/GDP ratio through large fiscal multipliers; it was the results of Draghi's monetary policies (LTROs, EMS, OMTs). So much so that Spain's spread also fell dramatically over the same period in spite of missing every single task and target set by the Troika.

And to revive growth Monti could have cancelled the F-35 junk, taxed the Church with greater determination and effectiveness, auctioned the TV bands and saved the money wasted on the artificial prolongation of the Messina bridge - just for starters. And used the savings to accelerate the payment of state arrears towards enterprises.

But you are right on Monti's feeble electoral strategy: certainly competing with Berlusconi on electoral promises was not a good idea.

Grillo's BBC interview confirms my interpretation of his strategy, but a PD-PdL alliance is not for him to decide. And his decision not to support any government will probably doom his party to early extinction.

Alberto Chilosi said...

As to the two clowns, did you see the cover page of this week Economist? This morning I have been told that the Austrian Clown Association has protested that the clown profession is a respectable one and they do not want have anything to do with Berlusconi.
As to the measures you reproach to Monti not to have undertaken certainly they would have no chance at all to be approved by the then parliament. The same applies, as it turned out to be, to a real reform of art. 18, one that would have favoured those looking for a job (who may have voted for Grillo) instead of those enjoying a strong protection of a permanent job. If I well remember, Berlusconi had to leave because the spread had reached unsustainable levels, and with Monti immediately the spread came down to manageable levels. But perhaps we should look more in detail to the chronology of the spread and of the events that may have affected it. By the way, had I been Dragi I would have be very weary to let the BCE purchase Italian bonds with Berlusconi as a prime minister.

D. Mario Nuti said...

The problem, Nicola, is not the difficulty that the classical "man in the street" might have in understanding the technicalities of financial markets, but the ambiguity of the approach followed by Monti and the whole European Union, based on austerity and so-called structural changes.

Austerity has a dual, opposite impact on financial markets. It does raise the country's credibility, convincing its creditors of its willingness and ability to service and repay its debt. It also makes GDP shrink - whether a deficit is reduced by higher taxes or lower expenditures - by an amount which, for a fiscal multiplier higher than the current debt/GDP ratio, causes the debt/GDP ratio to rise, pushing up the spread. By and large, the impact of austerity on the spread and debt sustainability is negative (unless it is more than counter-balanced by monetary policy, see above).

As for so-called structural reforms, i.e. changes for the better of a fundamental nature, they include a multitude of sins and virtues: for president Obama they include raising the minimum wage from $7.75 to £9 an hour; for Ms Fornero bashing the workers and allowing firms to sack them at their absolute discretion. They can't both be right, and the jury is still out.

In any case, Monti's statement that structural reforms would "add 6% of GDP in five years" is pie-in-the-sky, and in any case it would be back-loaded and might begin to appear, if at all, only towards the end of the five years, if not ten or fifteen.

Equity considerations - on which Monti failed miserably - are an additional issue, of course.

D. Mario Nuti said...

Yes, Alberto, Monti might have usefully expanded on the adverse consequences of Italy leaving the euro. The implied default reminds me of the impact of default in Russia in August 1998: eventually rouble devaluation improved the state of the economy, but it took a very long time and a hell of a lot of oil. The same applies to Argentina, as you rightly point out.

D. Mario Nuti said...

Alice in Wonderland: it must be Maurizio Crozza's Wonderland?

Yes, there has been a considerable democratic deficit in the Democratic Party, leading to neglect of strong, multiple calls for change. Even the primaries were not open to all, not even necessarily to all party members, and the second round was limited to those who had voted in the first round. While the "parliamentares" gave too many slots, indeed all the prime slots, to the party leadership. It would have been preferable to do without primaries and call on Bersani directly according to Statutes.

"Mr Bersani should quit and pass the Party leadership to someone else, someone capable of turning Italy into a civilised country by making possible a “modern” deal with M5S." Agreed, god bless you. Bersani is entitled to save his face and be consulted by Napolitano first, but it is only a waste of time.

"For a number of reasons, I believe that it is neither advisable for Italy nor convenient for Mr Renzi himself to be left with the leadership at this moment. So, the new leader should be found elsewhere within the Party but has to be found as soon as possible." Agreed.

"A modern deal with the Democratic Party is both possible and convenient for M5S." Agreed. I pointed out that Grillo treats his parlamentarians like Zombies, and would soon lose support of the protest voters if he did nothing with such a rich harvest of votes. You point out that Grillo probably also got lots of votes from the PdL (e.g. former Craxian socialists), just to stop the PD; they do not care about Grillo's revolutionary design but would also fail to support Grillo on a second round.

If only Grillo understood all this...

D. Mario Nuti said...

Yes, Alberto, I saw The Economist. They would not have chosen that cover if they had had the time to see President Napolitano's answer to Peer Steinbruek. Still, it is the "contrappasso" on Berlusconi's take on Angela Merkel. And did you see Maurizio Crozza's sad, uncharitable response? "Two clowns, why, what is the matter with Bersani?".

Sure, Monti's hands were somewhat tied by the existing majority conditioning his choices. But it would have done him a lot of good to try and expose Parliament turning against him.

And you will have noticed that in the first hours after the elections, when the early instant polls came in predicting PD victory in both Houses, the spread fell to a record (of several years) low of 354 points and the Stock Exchange rose by 4% - showing that what was needed was a governable country, not necessarily one governed by Monti.

Ruggero Paladini said...

Caro Mario, a me personalmente Bersani è simpatico proprio per il suo essere totalmente anticarismatico, ma a parte ciò, penso che sia il meglio (o il meno peggio) tra i vari D'Alema, Veltroni ecc...

Ma mi interessa di più il tema di Grillo. Non è un web fascist, dici, ma poi aggiungi che tratta i suoi come zombi. Sul web gira una citazione tratta da un discorso di Hitler del 32: "...i contadini, gli operai, i commercianti, la classe media, tutti sono testimoni... invece loro preferiscono non parlare di questi 13 anni passati, ma solo degli ultimi sei mesi... chi è il responsabile? Loro! I partiti! Per 13 anni hanno dimostrato cosa sono stati capaci di fare. Abbiamo una nazione economicamente distrutta, gli agricoltori rovinati, la classe media in ginocchio, le finanze agli sgoccioli, milioni di disoccupati.. sono loro i responsabili!"

"Io vengo confuso.. oggi sono socialista, domani comunista, poi sindacalista, loro ci confondono, pensano che siamo come loro. Noi non siamo come loro! Loro sono morti, e vogliamo vederli tutti nella tomba! Io vedo questa sufficienza borghese nel giudicare il nostro movimento..mi hanno proposto un'alleanza. Così ragionano! Ancora non hanno capito di avere a che fare con un movimento completamente differente da un partito politico...noi resisteremo a qualsiasi pressione che ci venga fatta. E' un movimento che non può essere fermato... non capiscono che questo movimento è tenuto insieme da una forza inarrestabile che non può essere distrutta..noi non siamo un partito, rappresentiamo l'intero popolo, un popolo nuovo..."

E' di una storica, che lo ha messo in giro col titolo: non c'è niente da ridere!

Io penso che definire Grillo fascista è uno sbaglio, perchè non ho visto a S. Giovanni nè camicie nere nè brune, ma forse cesarista lo è. Il M5S nasce su tematiche verdi-ambientaliste, ma poi Grillo ha detto no alla cittadinanza dei bimbi nati in Italia, poi scimmiotta Berlusconi su Imu e Equitalia.., insomma ha sviluppato una ottima capacità di attirare voti anche da destra. Quanto alla democrazia diretta, si è ben guardato dall'applicare il metodo di Markus Schulze, che è usato dal movimento dei Pirati, ed anche da altre organizzazioni.

D. Mario Nuti said...

Thanks, Ruggero, for a spine-chilling quotation and analogy. Food for thought, not least for Grillo...

Carlo Clericetti said...

Che Grillo ci ripensi ci credo poco, semmai è più probabile che, come dici tu, i suoi parlamentari comincino a disobbedirgli. Ma al Senato, per arrivare alla maggioranza col Pd, dovrebbero disobbedirgli i 4/5, il che al momento non mi sembra probabile.

Il pallino passa nelle mani di Napolitano (pessimo) e Bersani, su cui il mio giudizio è piuttosto migliore del tuo (considera che è gravato dalla zavorra dei Veltroni, D'Alema & Co.). Non so se avevi visto quello che avevo scritto in proposito per E&L, qui:
http://www.eguaglianzaeliberta.it/articolo.asp?id=1593

D. Mario Nuti said...

Good point, Carlo, the only hope really is in Grillo seeing the light...

And thanks for your excellent link.

Alberto Chilosi said...

"causes the debt/GDP ratio to rise, pushing up the spread". The relationship between the spread and the Dept/GDP ratio is by no means automatic (it is enough to quote the Japanese or even the Spanish case). A temporary increase of the ratio may not bring about an increase of the spread if the total amount of the debt to be financed decreases, if the current account improves and if the economy is undergoing reform in order to avoid the mismanagement of its finances that led to the debt crisis in the first place. After all what is of relevance here is not the current GDP if it is inflated by the deficit, but the long run sustainable GDP. I don't think that “markets” (however not overwhelming intelligent) are so stupid to be duped by looking only to the current Debt/GDP index.
As to the art. 18, I don't think that Fornero's intention was as you have it, but at any rate the greater the protection the lower the interest by employers to create jobs. The protection of the employment of permanent employees turns to the disadvantage of the unemployed and of the employed who may lose their job (because for instance of bankruptcy of their employer), as well as of workers in secondary employment and of discouraged workers. In order to substantiate this statement I may refer to the data contained in a new paper entitled "Long-term Unemployment in the Varieties of Capitalism", http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2228497

D. Mario Nuti said...

Needless to say, Alberto, I was talking on the understanding of "other things being equal".

While your conjecture that stronger tenure discourages new employment is plausible, it is not by any means certain. By the same token, higher minimum wages may or may not discourage lower paid employment. I am sure that was not Fornero's intention, but her reform destroyed hundrred of thousands of jobs. And I have it on the authority of a Confindustria high official that the Fornero reform was "useless, indeed counterporoductive".

Thanks for the links to an interesting-looking paper.

Travaglino said...

Sharp and thought provoking as always. I am glad to see that from his 'eremo' Alberto is still among the first to ignite .

On leadership: I do not know if Bersani is 'good' or 'bad'. I believe that he is simply 'not fit for the job'. It is often hard to understand what he says even for an educated audience. He seems unable to 'read' situations and developments, and to draw lessons. At the press conference of the 'day after' he came out with the famous statement 'we came first but did not win the elections', while he should have said in plain Italian 'abbiamo preso una batosta'!

And the PD defeat was not due to a superior performance ("la rimonta") by Berlusconi, for the PdL got less than 22% of the votes, i.e. 15% less than in 2008 and over 11% less than at the European elections. The PdL lost over 6 million votes, half of the total votes it received in 2008. The communication wizard managed to sell to a numbed public opinion the notion that he resurrected a party. Some resurrection!

The problem is that the PD lost almost 3,5 million (about 28%) of its votes, even in its traditional strongholds (more than 23% in Emilia, 25% in Tuscany, 32% in Umbria and 37% in Marche).

For a fuller analysis see
http://www.cattaneo.org/images/comunicati_stampa/Analisi%20Istituto%20Cattaneo%20-%20Elezioni%20politiche%202013%20-%20Voti%20assoluti%2026.02.13%20def.pdf]

Travaglino said...

Poor Image? Lack of charisma? Incapacity to communicate? Sure, but 'il tonfo' has much deeper roots. Such as the incapacity to focus on 'themes' that are not imposed by others. A political leader must be able to impose a shift of paradigm in the political discourse, to give the right messages, to establish credibility of its ability to run the country. Otherwise the candidate Prime Minister will never make it.

I am not concerned whether the PD party ends up in government or in opposition. The trouble is that nobody knows what it is going to do, whether in government or in opposition. The party is very short of ideas and programmes, under a leadership which collectively seems lost and unable to articulate a coherent and credible political proposal.

And there are plenty of ideas that one could try to debate and develop. Let us leave the economy aside - as we may end up endorsing the virtues of discredited hyper-liberal policies that increased poverty worldwide. Let us talk about democracy instead. A party that lost the elections, but enjoys an artificial majority in one of the Houses thanks to a scandalous electoral law says nothing about when (immediately!) and how (in great details) it intends to change it. While a party commanding under 4% of the votes controls the three most important regions (at least by population and economic activity) and mumbles about moving them somewhere else (il 'trasloco in Carinzia'): for the last twenty years the PD has had nothing to say about changing this (and other pearls, such as Padanian secession, and a fiscal federalism that allocates public funds to buying phoney diplomas for mentally retarded members of the leader's family). Not to mention the notorious conflict of interests, anti-trust law, anti-corruption law, and so on.

Travaglino said...

In my understanding of democracy the leader of the party that wins the election should be given a mandate to form a government. Hence, President Napolitano should give a mandate to Beppe Grillo, who should go out, explore, report and see if he can build a consensus around forming the executive. If not the President will consider possible alternatives. So far Grillo has been given the luxury to dictate conditions even to engage in a consultation process. Somebody should explain to him the difference between comedy and reality. Twitter and Facebook are great communication tools which allow one to avoid any kind of discussion of substance – is all about five words and/or a picture. Shame on those who are unable to use them. But maybe one should try to push the discussion onto other, more familiar communication grounds?

I imagine I sound like a maximalist. Possibly so, though the real issue is probably broader. I like to think that politics goes beyond extracting rents, appeasing constituencies, avoiding going to jail and perhaps getting rich at the margin. I was brought up among people who taught me that politics is about solidarity, ethical and moral principles, justice, equality and many other positive values. I do not see much reflection around those themes in the current political discourse of the left in Italy and in Europe and I believe this is one of the main reasons why the left is loosing. And all in all, I am still proud 'to have been brought up on the wrong readings', as once you told me.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Mario, for demystifying the political shenanigans in Italy (which sometimes seem even more bewildering than the ones in my home country-India)....it does look as though there is a general common trend in many democracies - a disillusionment with traditional parties, an upsurge in anti-corruption movements, easy populism, a call for direct democracy etc....there are many Grillos around the world, and not all of them are comedians either (I noted the chilling quotation mentioned in the one of the comments above)!

Best

Ashok

Jacob Richter said...

I find myself in agreement with Grillo's position. The notion of forming a minority government on one's own is more common in places like Canada, but elections can be more common with more frequent votes of non-confidence. Why can't this unilateralism, and the implication of informal coalitions, be more prolific in Europe? Why the obsession with formal coalition governments?

Alberto, I don't mind that strategy of forcing the PD-Pdl to work together. That's what a rebuilding, genuine Left should do in every country, anyway: force the mainstream parties to work together so as to prove they're Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, then unilaterally pick up the pieces from there.

Mario, on the subject of wage levels and labour economics, you might be interested in S-shaped supply curves.

D. Mario Nuti said...

Travaglino: I can't find anythiung the matter with your political upbringing, or with your readings. I cannot remember ever criticising your readings, and I apologise if I did. And I agree with you on everything, except perhaps the suggestion that Napolitano should give the mandate to Grillo, who I do not believe would obtain a confidence vote in either House.

You are right, Ashok, this is a general trend. But I do not see the point in a political movement that seeks power but is unwilling to exercise it when it gets it. Without the will to exercise power, neither democracy nor any other political system can work.

Which is why I do not see the point of Grillo's strategy, Jacob. And there is no way he can "force" PD and PdL into an alliance which at least for the PD would be suicidal.

Jacob Richter said...

Mario, it has worked to some extent in Germany. I'd like to see more Grand Coalitions so that Die Linke can benefit more with a consistent program. The same could be said of the Dutch Socialists vs. the ruling coalition there.

Minority governments are also part of the political history of the Scandinavian states.

The key question in this debate is: How does one define "getting power"?

On the side, I like a number of the 5SM's planks, despite disagreeing with others. Politicians on national average salaries, neither volunteering (or working for dirt cheap) nor being overpaid, has a long genuine left history.

Marcello said...

In ogni caso, siamo nel caos. Quello che piace a uno o all'altro fa poca differenza. Il vero problema è la corruttela dei partiti, che a mio parere è quello che impedisce al paese di diventare moderno, e per questo molti della sinistra considerano i grillini come uno dei vari movimenti sostanzialmente di destra, mentre quelli sono tutt'altra cosa.

Corruttela vuol dire che la gente ha sempre meno fiducia nei partiti, che considera dei sistemi per l'avanzamento personale dei signori che stanno al vertice. e di cui hanno paura, perchè dominano i comuni e le provincie, e fanno ciò che loro aggrada. Poichè il partito di Bersani è uno fra i maggiori elementi di corruttela nei comuni del nord italia, la gente comincia ad averne le scatole piene. C'era stato il fenomeno Parma, il PD non l'ha degnato di uno sguardo. E adesso i grillini hanno conquistato una posizione potentissima. Nei comuni della provincia di Parma Grillo ha vinto, al conteggio dei voti, queste ultime elezioni politiche.

E il fenomeno D'Alema dove lo mettiamo? Il povero Bersani ha fatto immediatamente, dopo i primi risultati, un discorso da vincitore, e poi si è scoperto che il numero dei senatori mancanti è molto più ampio di quanto sembrasse.

D. Mario Nuti said...

Grillo's senators have shown they are not zombies, having been instrumental to the appointment of two non-nomenklature candidates as presidents of both Chambers. It might even work for the election of the new Head of State - as long as D'Alema's candidature is scrapped.

But a vote of confidence cannot rely on even the same lukewarm minor support from Grillo's senators. And an alternative alliance PD-Lega-Monti is an unworkable nightmare.

And Grillo's support in the latest polls is said to have risen to 30%. Maybe I have been too optimistic.