Thursday, November 17, 2011

Italy's new dictatorship

The jubilation over the demise of Silvio Berlusconi has given way to the cold light of dawn: Italy now has an unelected government, ready to impose harsh austerity without any popular mandate. Its unelected Prime Minister, Mario Monti, was made a Senator-for-life solely so he could take over. Its new Cabinet contains no elected politicians, and instead has a bunch of bankers: the very people responsible for the crisis in the first place.

This is possible for two reasons. Firstly, of course, because the Italian Constitution unbelievably allows it. There's no requirement for the Prime Minister or Ministers to be MPs or Senators. The PM must merely hold the confidence of both houses of the Italian Parliament (but even then is not obliged to resign if it does not hold them). Secondly, there's the total abdication of responsibility from Italy's elected politicians. They can't be arsed governing their country or doing anything to solve its problems, so they're just going to turn over power to a pack of unelected "experts" and watch (meanwhile, of course, they will continue to collect their salaries regardless). And so Italy's democracy dies, not with a bang, but a whimper...

Supposedly, this "technocratic" regime will make "non-political" decisions. Bullshit. Austerity is political. Privatisation is political. Who pays is political. These decisions need to be made by people who are elected, and can be democratically held to account for their decisions. If they are not, then they will be made in the interests of the rich, or the Germans, not ordinary Italians. But then, that's the point, isn't it? To make decisions which are not in the expressed interests of ordinary Italians, to ram NeoLiberalism down their throats for the benefit of foreign bankers (who must have their pound of flesh, plus usury on top of that).

The only light at the end of the tunnel is that some parties are already positioning themselves to pull the plug and force elections when they think they can get away with it. They don't want to govern, but they want to save Italy from the results of their abdication (using the technocrats as scapegoats to take the blame for any unpleasant policy decisions, which they of course will not reverse). Its a stunning display of political cowardice and cynicism. But I guess that's what you get from Italian politicians these days.