Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I have a theory

"I have a theory that you can make any sentence seem profund by writing the name of a dead philosopher at the end of it"
Plato

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Six...


10/10/2007

Friday, March 22, 2013

The two clowns (part 4)

Some new faces in the Parliament for The Good Politics

Of course the problem of ungovernability in Italy is due to the fact that the Left, although obtained the relative majority of votes, it didn't reach the lower bound of the absolute majority of Deputies/Senators in the chambers. In addition there is the apparent irreconcilability among different parties in order to join the number and reach that lower bound.

Part of the problem is due to the electoral law that allows a situation like this. It could be even worse: the relative majority of one chamber could have been different from the relative majority of the other. If that was the situation i believe (but i am not sure) that the winner Presidente del Consiglio would have been the winner candidate of the Camera. But the ability for him to produce a Govern would have been unrealistic at all.

One can think that the absolute majority into the two chambers shouldn't be a necessary precondition to give the Country a Government. And, in fact, it is not necessary. In Italy we had some cases of Governo di Minoranza (Minority Government): in 1953 with Einaudi and in 1976 with Andreotti. But such a Government is not stable, because it cannot count on a safe support of the Parliament.

So, it is pretty obvious that an electoral law like that should be changed, in order to give anyway an absolute majority in both of the chambers to the relative winner.
But i still believe that it is unfair to the citizens that the proportions were not respected. The Left had about 30% of the votes in both the chambers. If a better electoral system gave the Left 50% of the Deputies and the Senators to the Left, the preference of 20% of citizens would not be respected. Italian population is about 60 millions people. 20 percent is 12 millions people which, in that case, would have voted for somebody but elected somebody else. Unfair.
Under this point of view, a Minority Government wouldn't be so unacceptable.

A Governo di Minoranza can still work in the Parliament thanks to article 67 of the constitution, which specify that the mandate is personal. This means that, although a deputy/senator is elected thanks to the support of the party he is candidate for, he is personally responsible to make a decision, which can be different to the guide-line the party suggest. In this way a Government can have the necessary Fiducia votes although the parties that support that Government do not have numbers enough.
This makes possible to form a Government in this situation in which the relative winner (Left) does not want to compromise with criminal Clown #1, while M5S does not want to compromise with the Left.

There is still a strong feeling that this situation is a wasted opportunity for the Left that was not able to find a stable majority after 20 years of criminal Government of Berlusconi.
There is the suspicion that in these 20 years some games were played under the table to artificially create a settlement of the Country despite the will of the citizens. The actors of these games are Massimo D'Alema (background leader of the Left, although with no official charge) and, of course, Berlusconi. And, obviously, international financing and economics interests.
Also without considering this conspiracy theory, there is no doubt that the leading people of the Left (D'Alema on top) run the games so that they, or their puppets, keep their claws on the seats in the control room.
That's why a lot of citizens are disaffected to Politics. They reject Berlusconi's corruption world, but in the same time they feel that a war against corruption cannot be fought with other corruption.

This is one of the keys of the success of M5S. Beppe Grillo (Clown #2), which does not have any political quality, but is a great communicator, has the merit of being able to canalize the people's disillusion. With a simple paradigm: people is not disaffected to Politics: they are simply disaffected to this kind of system in which whatever they vote corruption is always the winner. And who can ever disagree with this point of view?
The paradox is that electors gave so many votes to M5S not for their program (indeed somehow limited and somewhere self-contradictory), but against the corrupted system of (the other) traditional Parties.
The real problem is that such a protest obtained one fourth of the valid votes, enough to invest a big number of deputies/senators. So big that their votes are determinant for any majority in both of the chambers. Enough big that it was unexpected by the M5S itself.

Of course also M5S had its blocked lists, but there was no leadership that chose the names on those lists: they were chosen among common citizens by a sort of internet voting (i don't really agree with this method, which didn't look very transparent at all, but for sure i like this much better than the nomination by the management of the party).

One of the main point of the program of M5S is the renovation of the electoral system, problem that had been faced both by the Left and the Right with no success because not convenient for their leaderships. The approach of M5S is the right one: if the leaderships cannot or do not want to do the good for the Country, they have to go home. Unfortunately M5S don't have a clear idea on what kind of electoral law they want.

In my opinion, Article 67 that preserve the individuality of judgement of the deputies/senators, is a great thing, because it puts the power on the shoulders of concrete people that are supposed to be there for the good of the Country, and not on the Parties, whose aim is to collect consent among electors. Nevertheless the same Article allow any elected one to change idea, which one of the main reason of corruption in the Parliament.

As soon as they had to take their first decision, the elected candidates of M5S had to face the problem to decide if to vote upon their own conscience for the good of the Country or follow the lines of the Party in accordance with the declared intentions they were elected for.
The problem was if to vote for Laura Boldrini as Presidente della Camera and Pietro Grasso as Presidente del Senato (both elected for the Left, both newbies in the Parliament).
Pietro Grasso was a judge that played a big role in investigating and arresting some of the main Mafia bosses in the last decade. He worked with the more famous judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, both killed by Mafia in the early 90s. So, undoubtly an upright person. Of course criticized by the Right (being that their leader Berlusconi is a criminal, they don't like judges!!!)
I also like Laura Boldrini a lot. She worked for FAO in the UN, she had been Italian representative in WFP, she was into UNHCR. She spent a big part of her life for the poors and the marginalized ones. Significant, in my opinion was her settlement speech when she was elected:
(...) I arrive at the office after spending so many years to defend and represent the rights of The Last Ones in Italy, as in many suburbs of the world. It is an experience that will stay with me forever and that today I put at the service of this Camera. I will make so that this Institution be also the place of to be for those who need it most. My thoughts go out to those who have lost certainties and hopes.

We should all work together to restore full dignity to any Right.

We will have to engage in a real battle against poverty, and not against the Poors (1).

In this Camera the universal rights of our Constitution were written, the most beautiful in the world. The responsibility of this institution is also measured in the ability to know how to represent and garantee each one of them. This Camera will have to listen to the social suffering. A generation that has lost itself, prisoner of precariousness, often forced to bring their talents away from Italy (2).

We'll have to make ourselves responsible for the humiliation of women suffering violence masquerading as love. And it is a commitment that from the first day we entrust the responsibility of politics and Parliament (3).

We will stand beside those who have fallen without the help or find the strength to rise up again, to the many prisoners who are now living in a state inhuman and degrading treatment as authoritatively denounced the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (4).

We will have to give tools to those who have lost their job or has never found, who risks losing even the last relief of Cassa Integrazione (5), the so-called esodati (6), which none of us have forgotten. For many entrepreneurs who are a vital asset for the Italian economy, and which are crushed by the weight of the crisis (7), the earthquake victims and those who suffer the effects of low daily care of our territory (8).

We commit ourselves to return confidence to those retired people who have worked all their lives and now they can not go on (9). We must learn to understand the world through the eyes open of who comes from far away, with the intensity and the wonder of a child, with the unexplored inner wealth of a disabled person (10).

These rights were written in the Parliament, but they were built out of here, freeing Italy from Fascism and the Italians (11). We remember the sacrifice of those who died for the institutions and for this democracy. Even with this in mind we are ideally close to those today in Florence, together with Luigi Ciotti, that remember all the deaths at the hands mafia (12). To their sacrifice each of us and this country owe a lot. And much, much we owe also to the sacrifice of Aldo Moro and his bodyguards that today we remember with emotion the day on which the anniversary of their murder (13).

This is a Parliament largely renewed. Lets shake out of ourselves any delay in giving back full dignity to our Institution that will be able to take back the centrality and responsibility of its role. Let us make this Camera the home of good Politics. Let the Parliament and our work transparent, also in a choice of sobriety that we owe to Italians (14).

I will be the president of all, strting from who didn't vote for me, I will for my function be a place of guarantee for each one of you and for the whole country. Italy is part of the core of the founders of the European integration process, we strive to bring the Italian citizens in this challenge, to a project that is able to recover the entire vision and mission that were designed with foresight, by Altiero Spinelli (15).

Let's work for Europe being a big dream, a crossroads of peoples and cultures, a safe port for the rights of people, a place of freedom, brotherhood and peace. Even the protagonists of religious spiritual urge us to be more daring: for this we've received with joy the actions and words of the new pope, who came symbolically "from the end of the world".

To Pope Francis, a greeting full of hope for all of us. Let me also salute the International Institutions, Associations and Organizations of the United Nations in which I worked for 24 years and let me - since it has been so far my efforts - a thought for the many, too many nameless dead the our Mediterranean houses (16). A sea that will have to increasingly become a bridge to other places, other cultures, other religions (17).

I feel strongly the call of the Presidente della Repubblica about the unity of the Country (18), a reminder that this court is called to fully collect with conviction. Politics must return to be a hope, a service, a passion. We are starting a journey, today we start a journey. I will try to bring together with each one of you, with humility and care, the demand for change that now all Italians, especially our children, ask to Politics.

(Translation of mine)
Notes:
(1) Lots of the measures to contrast the crisis engaged by Elsa Fornero (minister of the outgoing Monti's Government) affect mainly the lower classes
(2) The state of Italian industry, and once again Fornero's measures made so that the the crisis affected more the youth. Almost 40% of young people are unemployed, and if they ever find a job, in most of cases it is a temporary job on which one cannot found his choices of life.
(3) Statistics of violence to women in Italy are impressive.
(4) She refers to the overcrowded italian prisons, which make unhuman the conditions of the prisoners, as denounced by the European Court.
(5) "Cassa Integrazione" is a State support for employers whose work is temporarily suspended due for the crisis. The fund is lowering down because of the crisis itself.
(6) "Esodati" are those people who were asked to quit working in change to an anticipate retirement program, due for the crisis again. Mrs. Fornero declared that this form of anticipated retirement was not valid, so that they don't get those money and they are no reintegrated to their job.
(7) Small enterpreneurs feel so much the weight of this crisis that we had a lot of cases of suicides because they cannot stay in business and they cannot pay the work of their employees either.
(8) She refers to the last disastrous heartquake happened last year in Parma surroundings, who are waiting in vain for money from the State. But also for the heartquake we had few years ago in Ancona, and also for other disasters, for example floods due to overbuilding
(9) The retirement fund should be integrated proportionally to the inflaction. Instead retired people's purchasing power is reducing. This too is an effect of the crisis.
(10) one word also for immigrants, right of children, handicapped people.
(11) Italy is a republic founded on anti-fascism
(12) During the day this speach was pronounced in Florence there was a big popular demonstration against Mafia remembering those ones that died fighting against it.
(13) Aldo Moro was a great state-man, killed, along with his bodyguards, by some terrorist group in the early 70s.
(14) She perfectly points out the problem of a Parliament that till now was decaying, and there is now a good opportunity to raise to the dignity it supposedly should have.
(15) This is addressed to who proposes (not very realistically, indeed) to exit European Community, as a controverse point of the program of M5S
(16) This refers to all those poor people immigrating from Africa that die on the boats before reaching Italy
(17) In the speach there is some polemics to the Bossi-Fini law (made by the Right) that made more difficult for immigrants to obtain a regular visa.
(18) Polemics also against Lega that wants to divide rich north from poor south.
Article 67 gives the deputies/senators freedom to vote for whatever also against the directives of the party they belong to. For that reason it also allows a criminal commerce of deputies/senators, favoring corruption (especially if the majority in the chambers is not wide). That's why the internal guideline of M5S, in order to fight corruption, is to find an agreement each other before voting a measure in Parliament and give all the same vote. This indeed eliminates the risk that somebody vote for a personal interest (in this way they nullify de facto the effect of Article 67).
While Boldrini (Camera) won with the votes of the Left (thanks to Porcellum the Left has the majority of deputies in the Camera), for Grasso the things were different. Being that the number of senators of the Left were not enough, he was elected thanks to some votes of M5S also.
Also considering the level of the other candidate (Renato Schifani of the Right), it would have been really a shame if the senators of M5S wouldn't vote for Grasso.
This shows the importance of Article 67, also for the deputies/senators of M5S, who despise that article so much.
Of course Clown #2 (which is not a deputy nor a senator - he's just a front man of M5S) was pissed for the fact that the vote of "his" senators were divided (most of them abstained and few voted for Grasso). But that is another political game: Grillo wishes that Bersani fails in forming a Government, or, even better, that Bersani finds an agreement with Berlusconi in order to form a wide-coalition Government (as it is in Germany with the "Grosse Koalition", or as it happened last year with Monti as an extreme measure). Such a Government would be based on an unstable majority, so it would probably fall after something like one year. The citizens would be called to elections again, and after another disaster the traditional parties (Left and Right), that will appear incapable to give a government to the Nation, would loose consent. This way M5S will have more and more popularity. Too bad, in the mean time, Italy will suffer a period in which important decisions to recover from such a social and economical dramatic situation cannot be taken.
Anyway, if the situation is like that due to a bad electoral system, going to vote with the same electoral system would appear a nonsense. And to change the electoral law we need a Government.

The election of Grasso and Boldrini is a wonderful thing. They both come from the Left coalition (this is why M5S deputies/senators initially didn't want to vote for them).
But in the intention of the Left, the candidates for the Left for those offices should have been Anna Finocchiaro and Dario Franceschini. I don't like them both, and anyway, whatever judgement one can give them, there is no doubts that they both belong to that kind of Politics i described in the previous posts, which created disaffection to the citizens because the parties completely ignore the real needs of the citizens, and they work much strongly for sharing the powers instead of solving the problems. Not to mention any case of corruption here.
Both Finocchiaro and Franceschini belong to the "D'Alema way".
It is clear enough that nor Finocchiaro nor Franceschini could ever have any vote from M5S. Which thing would have made even more difficult the task to form a Government.

In other words, although i somehow don't share the principles and the programs of M5S, i strongly believe that the ruinous party-centered system of power can be fixed only by a political force like M5S. Both Left and Right, and also other minor parties and coalitions have all the guilt not to be able to represent the values of the citizens.
To tell the truth i believed that at the end Bersani would have found an agreement with Berlusconi, which would have leaded to three disastrous effects: Firstly there would have been a terrible government just when Italy needs some equality and solidarity (another Monti-kind Government would't be bearable by the lower classes). Secondly the duration of the government would have been short anyway, and after that the Left would have lost even more consent for any new election, which would have made the Right (if not M5S alone) at the power again. And as a Third point, Berlusconi with an Institutional charge, would have avoided to be processed again.
Now, with the election of Boldrini and Grasso, this alliance looks more far. Thanks heavens.
The last perfect step of Bersani now would be a back step, with the proposal to Napolitano (Presidente della Repubblica) of another person, as Presidente del Consiglio. Somebody upright and irreproachable like Boldrini and Grasso. Somebody that could be supported by M5S too (although they said they would never support a "traditional" government).
And i would be happy of it. And i also bet that a large share of Italians would be happy too.

Antitrust, corruption, sobriety in Politics

One other key point in M5S programs is an efficient antitrust law, to fill the legislative hole that allows Berlusconi to own a so big share of media. It's obvious that in a country where media enter all the houses, who owns them shouldn't be allowed to run for an institutional office, because it wouldn't be a fair competition. Popularity of M5S was in fact possible also because they based all of their communication on the Internet instead of the traditional media (Italy is having a total coverage of reasonable speed internet only in these last years).
To tell the truth fair media is a point also of the programs of all the other political forces (except Berlusconi's Right, of course). But none of them did solve the problem in the past, which thing makes people believe one of these options: the Left agreed with Berlusconi under the table (some kind of power seat in change of the freedom to do whatever he wants with Media) or, at least, the Left is incapable to do a simple law against free propaganda. In both the cases, the Left shows unable to solve the problem. In this way Berlusconi will always be able to do whatever he wants, supported by some kind of propaganda (a lot of people, me included, just hope in the Power of Death to solve what the Left cannot).

Money

Another effort of M5S is to try to reduce corruption in the Parliament. In order to do that they suggest the reduction of salary for the public charges, strict control of the exchange of money, abolition of party public financing, limitation of the time in which one single person can cover a mandate. Everybody looks like agreeing with these points, especially in a crisis period like this. I believe we should be careful also with these points. First of all i believe that a reasonable salary should be given to the deputies and senators, because otherwise Politics would become a thing for rich people, and i believe that this would be the right opposite of democracy. Politics should be a place to govern society, not to protect the privileges of the higher classes of people.
Moreover i believe that the parties should be covered of the expenses with public money, because otherwise they would need to find private sponsors. And private companies would pay money only if they have something in change. I'd like a system of parties that try to do things for the Country, not for the lobbies.
Finally, although i believe that there must be a change in the people in the Parliament, i also believe that the work of the Politician is something that is learnt thanks to experience. One for all, a politician i like is the Presidente della Repubblica Giorgio Napolitano. He is a honest old grandpa that devoted all his life for politics.
I believe it is unfair that the politicians can decide their own salary, that the parties waste money, and that the politicians self protect their own seats for personal interests. This problem put serious obstacles to democracy. But, also, i believe that changing the rules is a very delicate subject, if we want to protect democracy.

Parliamentarian immunity

Finally, a subject for which M5S is so popular is that they are against parliamentarian immunity. They actually want to abolish it at all.
This kind of immunity was abused in a lot of cases. One for all Berlusconi. Corruption, implication with Mafia, even underage prostitution. Subjects like these are accuses the Magistrature is trying to make Berlusconi responsible of, but he is avoiding processes thanks to immunity.
It's pretty obvious that a situation like this must be changed.
But it is also true that Immunity was introduced to protect Legislative and Executive powers from any possible attack of the Judical power. The equilibrium among these powers is the base of Italian democracy. It needs a lot of care to change the rules that support this equilibrium.
Moreover immunity is thought to protect deputies and senators from each other. An accuse of some crime cannot be used to block the works in progress into the Parliament or the Government. If a politician cannot do his job because he is busy answering the Justice for potential fake accusations, we are in trouble.
M5S propose to make ineligible those ones that are or have been investigated for some crimes. If we apply this rule, i believe that somebody would build fake accusations in order to drive the judges to investigate some political enemy, just in order to get rid of those enemies.

Other weird points on M5S program

One point that they suggest, in which i am very fascinated since before M5S existed at all, is the philosophy of Degrowth.
I believe it is something to take in consideration because the world resources are not infinite. So, the global economy cannot just indefinitely grow. Therefore if economy grows in some countries, it has to reduce in some others, and this is the base of poverty in the world. What happens is that the rich countries are more powerful, and they can grow. Poor countries instead do not have the power to contrast this, so they are getting poorer and poorer. Moreover i believe that this happens within the single country. So that the difference between rich and poor (in Italian we call it "forbice"="scissors") grow.
This is not fair, if we want a just world. That's why we, rich countries, have to stop growing. The only acceptable way to stop growing is to level the wealth of everybody to ensure that everybody would be able to access to the essential needs.
But it is clear enough that Degrowth can be applied only globally. If an economy like the United States, for example, unilaterally decide to stop growing, in few months other more aggressive economies like China, for example, would reduce United States to the level of third world.
That's why Degrowth cannot be seriously part of a single nation political program.

Exiting from the Euro?

One problem that aggravate the crisis in Italy is the unbalance of distribution of European economy. Rich nations like Germany have some privileges that poor countries like Greece don't have. And understandably German people want to keep those privileges. The effect is that Greece is going down and down because Europe want it to refund the debts. This is a myopic way to see the problem, because punishing Greece because its economy is doing bad, make its economy do even worse.
The real truth is that European community doesn't make sense if there is not a political integration among the countries. If Germany (and the rich countries) do not want to help economy in Greece there is no reason for an European union. And if we abolish Europe everybody would loose, Germany included.
To make a comparison, if a State of the US, say for example Mississippi, suffer more than others for crisis, the United States won't ever think to expel Mississippi from the union. Instead the rich states would help the poor ones. This point of view is obvious because it is socially accepted that USA are a inseparable union of States. Somebody from Boston and somebody else from Los Angeles both feel like Americans. Under this point of view, if we really believe in Europe, a German should consider a Greek part of the same Nation. There cannot be bankrupt in Greece and privileges in Germany.
Italian economy is not at the level of Greece, but we still are one of the worse countries of the union. Somehow Italians feel abandoned by Europe because we are paying for the fact that we are expected to be at the level of other more rich countries. This feed the anti-Europe feeling of somebody.
The fact is that economists say that if we exit from Europe it will be the total bankrupt of Italy, being that our economy cannot compete. Nevertheless M5S proposes to find the way to exit the union. This would be a suicide, but the option is somehow popular among the citizens.

What i think of M5S

I believe that Beppe Grillo is a Clown. In a different way than Berlusconi. Berlusconi acts like a clown because he wants to do whatever he likes no matter the wealth of Italy. Grillo instead is a comedian, and he is proposing a different way of doing politics.
The things are more complex than how it was reduced by Peer Steinbr├╝ck (a German Politician that commenting Italian elections said that in Italy Two Clowns won - hence the title of these posts of mine). The problem is deeper in Italian Politics, and there is nothing that can be depicted so funnily by some German dude.
M5S is the answer to the need of Italians to be part of their own democracy, because the power, that should be in the hands of citizens, had progressively moved to the hands of a politicians caste.

I believe that it is time to renew the behavior of Politics, and to do that some rules must be fixed. I also believe that the task to do this cannot be done by who take advantage of the situation.
In my opinion Italy needs some honest people that impersonate the needs of the citizens and work for them. M5S is the answer of this need. Not because they are more capable than the other politicians, but because those old faces do not represent us anymore.
Politics need a renovation. It's not yet very clear the way that renovation should be done: the only clear thing is that we need that renovation. I want to get rid of Berlusconi and those ones that allowed him to be there umpunished for so many years.

Grillo is a Clown, but the deputies/senators of M5S are just common people (and the fact that they are "common" people is a good news itself) that try to do their best for the Country.

In several points i do not agree with their program, and i also don't trust in their capability to obtain some good results. But, for sure, they are a control for real politicians to do their best (that they guiltily didn't do till now).

What are we voting for

I voted for the Left, because my personal values are more similar to the values that are traditionally associated with the Left. I cannot vote for the Right, both because their ideals are different from mine, and because with Berlusconi leading the right, nothing good will ever come out from that coalition.
I didn't vote for M5S because i do not agree with their programs and i do not think that they are enough expert to run a Country.

The intention of most of the people that voted for M5S was not to vote for them, but to vote against everybody else.

But i don't think that we were called to vote against somebody, and i don't think that the vote express a personal judgement on something. I think we were called to decide which people and which forces should compose the government of the Country. I didn't like the way the Left proposed itself, but i was not called to say what i like. I was called to choose, among the options they gave, which one is the best. And that is the Left.

Politicians try to interpret the result of the vote. I don't think it is a correct way. The result of the vote is that one about 30% is for the Left, 30% for the right, 30% for M5S. But my vote was only one. I voted 100% for the Left.
If they want to understand the result of the vote they should ask themselves why so many people voted 100% against them.

What's going on now

Politics in Italy looks really slow, in this period. We need a government now, but still it looks we are navigating in the middle of the ocean.
Though it looks like my posts are even slower than Politics.
In the mean time, yesterday Napolitano finished the Consultazioni, so today he's expected to give somebody the mandate to try to form a Government (and ask for a Fiducia vote).
It looks like Napolitano is giving the charge to Bersani. But still it looks like the M5S senators won't vote the trust for him. If it will end up like that, all the cards still have to be played, but none looks good to reach some kind of result.
In few hours we should know for sure Napolitano's strategy to exit this pool of mud.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The two clowns (part 3)


How did it happen?


The result of the last election was about that one third of the electors voted for Left, one third for Right and the last third for M5S. Not exactly divided, but pretty much:

SENATO
Left: 31.6%
Right: 30.7%
M5S: 23.8%

CAMERA
Left: 29.5%
Right: 29.1%
M5S: 25.5%

The Left has the relative majority at the Camera, so, for the rules of the electoral law, it gets the absolute majority of the Deputies.
In the Senate, as i said in the previous post, the relative majority of votes to the Left was enough to obtain the relative majority of the Senators, but it was far from the lower bound of the half+1.
This was an extreme case, but there is no doubt that an electoral system that can lead, although within an extreme case, to the impossibility to govern the Country has some serious problems.

Porcellum


One main subject in the political agenda for every political parties is the reform of the electoral law.
This law is named Legge Calderoli (from the name of Roberto Calderoli, the guy that invented such a tricky thing). It is also nicknamed "Porcellum" (it could be translated from Latin as "piggy thing", "dirty trick"). This nickname was invented by Roberto Calderoli himself when he finally realized that the mechanism he invented was really a masterpiece of shit.
In year 2005, Porcellum substituted Mattarellum, the previous law (a little better than this), which itself substituted a previous law that was a "perfect proportional" law. In the Proportional the nomination of candidates was based on a proportion to the number of the electoral votes.
In other words, in these last couple of decades Italian electoral rules moved from a Proportional to a Majority system. The goal is to have only two (main) parties or coalitions, in which case, of course, there would not be any difference between the two systems (who wins more votes, has the majority of votes, which makes the majority of the elected, both in a proportional and a majority-system law).

In my opinion, the proportional law we had before was the ideal system, because it better respected the will of the citizens. In a proportional system, if an idea is supported by a party which has a certain amount of consent among the citizens, the number of elected Parliamentarians belonging to that party that support that idea is proportional to the number of the citizens that support that party. So, the strength of that idea is proportional to the number of electors that like it.

Of course the proportional system favorites the fragmentation of the Parliament is small parties. And, under that system, it didn't ever happen, as far as i remember, that one single party won the absolute majority of the two chambers (which of course could happen only if a party obtained the absolute majority of votes).
Moreover, with the proportional system, also coalitions among different parties are discouraged, because, for a party, entering a coalition means to accept compromises, which in general means that the strength with which a party supports an idea is limited, which thing is less appealing for the citizens.

For this facts, the real main difference that came out when we passed from the Proportional to the Majority-system law is that, while in the Proportional, in order to reach the absolute majority, the parties had to form alliances AFTER the elections, with the Majority-system the parties are pushed to form coalitions BEFORE the elections, being that the number of seats assigned to a coalition is increased if that coalition obtains a good result of votes. In other words, with the Majority-system it is more convenient to be part of a big party/coalition instead of a small one.
Still, i believe that the Proportional system is better, because, with the Majority system, important values tend too often to be excluded from the the parties/coalitions agenda just because they are not very popular or they were canceled in the process of finding a compromise.
Which, in my opinion, is the right opposite of the task of Politics: Politics should support the needs of weaker citizens against the power of the stronger ones. Politics should protect minorities against the power of majorities. I believe that the most important rule of a democratic society is that ALL the citizens are even, also who belongs to small minorities.

A good thing in the Majority systems is that it should (should!!!) reduce the risk that a small party (so that, supported by few citizens), has a a big power. This can happen because the number of its deputies/senator, although small, is determinant to form an absolute majority with the ones of a big party. We call this big-power/small-party situation "Ago della Bilancia" ("hand of the scale").
This is what happened, for example, for the PSI small party, which, in the 80's played the game to be allied to one or the other big party (DC, PCI) obtaining favors (political or [!!!] personal) in change of an instrumental alliance of deputies/senators (is it just a coincidence that Bettino Craxi -PSI-, best friend of Clown #1, was Prime Minister?!?).
The fact is that Porcellum didn't solve the Ago della Bilancia problem. In fact, even if we exclude the good result for M5S (Clown #2), we would end up to a situation in which in the Senate, the Left didn't obtain the absolute majority anyway. There would have been a need for a compromise between the Left and Monti's Center party, in order to have the absolute majority both in the Camera and in the Senato. The center would have had a big power although only few deputies/senators in Parliament. The Ago della Bilancia would have been Monti, which would have had the power to dismiss the Government whenever he wanted.
In other words, with this majority system, the goal to form the alliances BEFORE the elections, with the advantage to have clear political programs BEFORE the citizens are called to vote, is reached. But that does not mean a big lot if AFTER the elections the winner party/coalition ends up to change its program again, in order to find a compromise with other parties.

Another difference versus the Proportional system is that in the Porcellum the candidate Prime Minister is declared by the coalition BEFORE the elections (involving therefore the electors), and not AFTER. This is an obvious consequence of the fact that the coalitions, so that their political programs, are already given BEFORE the elections (while, if the alliance are settled after the elections, also the Government program must be mediated among the programs of the allied parties). The candidate Presidente del Consiglio is supposed to be the best person to actualize that program if ever that coalition wins the elections. So, formally the Presidente del Consiglio is still nominated by the Presidente della Repubblica, but it's obvious that the best supported nomination would be the candidate of the winner coalition, which would be the one supported by the relative majority of the citizens.
Of course also in this point the Porcellum failed, being that, while the candidate of the Left is Pierluigi Bersani (which i don't really like, nevertheless is the one i voted), any compromise that will be found will probably ask for somebody else.
If the purpose to vote for the Prime Minister is a kind of control by the citizens, this is not reached by the Porcellum, in fact Berlusconi is still around after 20 years of criminal government.

Corruption in Parliament


Another criticism that is traditionally made to the Porcellum is the lack of "Preferenze".
In the old Mattarellum, and even before in the Proportional system, the citizen was called to vote with a sign on the symbol of the party/coalition and, optionally, a name of his preferred candidate Deputy/Senator (one voting paper for each chamber). When the Porcellum was introduced, the citizens couldn't express this name (Preferenza) anymore.
When it was firstly introduced i didn't think this was a bad idea. In fact i believe that the choice of a candidate deputy/senator among hundreds is a too difficult task for a citizen. In order to choose in a serious way, the citizen should at least know something about each candidate (something more than his/her membership to a party). Moreover i believe that a good or bad feeling of the citizen is more driven by something that has nothing to do with his capability in the political office he is candidate to.
Just to make a stupid example, when Obama was elected for the first mandate, i liked Hillary Clinton better than Obama. This for the much i knew (not a big lot, indeed) about their declared programs when they run for the Primaries. Nevertheless i also believed that, against the Republicans, Obama appealed much better to the citizens than how Clinton would have (between the two of them, Obama is the one i would like to sit in a pub with, for a beer). Maybe "sympathy", "pleasantness" could be an important peculiarity for the President of the USA, but for sure, in the Italian Parliament i prefer a capable deputy/senator than a handsome/pretty one.
I believe that an appealing candidate for the Senate/Camera has more chance to win in a system that allows Preferenze. His/her capability in Politics would be more hidden to the elector than other appearance attributes like good looking, sympathy...
In other words, i believe that the job of Deputy/Senator needs a technical skill that cannot be easily judged by the average citizen (when i apply for a job [I am a software engineer], i prefer to be interviewed and evaluated for my competence about computer science; this quite never happens, being that the people that are in charge to judge me are usually totally unqualified - instead, some psycho-dumb questions like "which are the three qualities and the three defects that describe yourself better?" are more common).

Also under this point of view, the Porcellum failed. In the Porcellum the candidates are nominated with "Liste Bloccate" (blocked lists) of the parties/coalitions. In other words, any coalition (and any party within the coalition) establishes, before the elections, an ordered list of candidates. After the election, the topmost names of that list are selected to cover the number of deputies/senators seats assigned to that coalition (and to any party within the coalition).
In other words, a party can make sure that some candidate will be elected, putting that candidate on the top of the list, despite the citizens like that candidate or not.
In this way, if the party leaders want to have a full control of the people in the Parliament, they would put on the top of the list the most controllable candidates.
In the best case, when the leaders are honest, we end up to have a Parliament of "sheeps" which task is to vote upon the instruction of their leaders (the Parliament is this way transformed to an oligarchy de facto). In the worst case, if there are criminals among the leaders (and in Italy we do have a main one: Clown #1), the candidates will enforce their crimes.
What happens is that who is not accustomed to think with his own head (maybe they can think with some other part of their bodies - at the end this is why they were nominated) is more controllable. But for the same reason he is also more corruptible.
And this fact was often used by Clown #1 to move the forces into the Parliament in his favor. Romano Prodi's Government #2, for example, fell in 2008 because for a rejected Fiducia, being that Berlusconi "bought" some deputies of the Left (the news in this period, are just speaking about these facts - google "Sergio De Gregorio" for more infos about it: he confessed he accepted 3 millions euros from Berlusconi for changing his vote).

The astonishing thing is that, although the games between corruptors and corrupted are clear enough to the citizens, thanks to the Porcellum the leaders of some parties still perpetrate corruption, while the corrupted deputies/senators are still "elected" by the citizens themselves. One name for all, Domenico Scilipoti passed to the Right side, receiving a "gift" for that from Berlusconi (Scilipoti was firstly elected in the Camera thanks to a blocked list of IdV (Left) in the previous elections). That "cambio di casacca" (change of jacket) helped a couple of times Berlusconi's Government not to fall in the last legislation, despite the defection of some "traitors" of the Right. Nevertheless this time Scilipoti is again re-elected in the blocked list of PdL (Right), and he is still seating his dirty ass in the Camera.
The obvious questions are "why the PdL party still put a guy like Scilipoti in its blocked list, although it is prooved he was corrupted?" and "why the citizens still vote for Berlusconi's Party, although it is prooved that he is a corrupter, and that in his lists there are corrupted candidates?"

Berlusconi corrupted Scilipoti, so he knows that, in case of need, he can corrupt him again. That's why Scilipoti was in Berlusconi's list.
The answer to the second question is more complex, and i will try it below.
But first another thought about Porcellum:
This law favorites the corruption in the Parliament, in fact if a Deputy/Senator wants to be re-elected, his goal is not to convince the citizens he acted good in his office. Because the citizen has no power to re-elect him, being that he cannot express a Preferenza on the voting paper. Instead what he has to do is to show the leaders of the parties that he will be prone to their will whenever it is convenient to. His goal is not to have the electors consent, but to enter the blocked lists as topmost as possible.
On the other hand, a Party has no convenience to nominate a "clever enough" candidate (or that looks so to the citizens), because, being that the mandate is personal, if a clever candidate is elected, in order to work for the good of the country he can decide not to follow the direction of the party (this right is established by article 67 of the Constitution). This of course reduce the power of the Party in the Parliament. So, the interest of the Party is to have a blocked list full of stupid and corruptible people.

At the end we can say that Porcellum tend to give a lot of power to the parties, in particular to the ones that win the elections (thanks to the Premio di Maggioranza). Therefore the Parties, especially those ones that win the elections (which have the absolute majority in the Parliament), do not put their energy to change the electoral system, although they agree that Porcellum is a shameful law.
In this scenario, the parties all look dishonest to the eyes of the elector.
An elector, if traditionally votes for the Left, evaluating the fact that Berlusconi corrupted Scilipoti will certainly be enforced not to vote for Berlusconi, But, in the same time, his affection to the Left is weakened, being that Scilipoti was firstly elected in the Parliament because the Left put him in its blocked list thanks to his stupidity and corruptibility.
I am an elector for the Left. But i have to admit that also the Left itself played an important role to the spread of corruption in the Parliament. So, to me, while it is very clear why i am not gonna vote for the Right, it is much less clear why i should ever vote for the Left. I can imagine that for somebody culturally oriented to the Right would do the same type of reasoning ending up to vote Berlusconi anyway, just because for rejecting to vote for the Left (to tell the truth i believe there are thousands of other reason for which Berlusconi should go home, but should all those fact really be on the shoulders of a normal elector?). If by chance i am discussing with somebody that votes for the Right, i usually point out that Berlusconi's party is full of criminals, because i believe that this is the main cause of the disaster that was guiltily perpetrated to the Country for his personal interests. In those cases i would like that not to have back the answer that in the lines of the Left they are not better at all.
Of course the subject "they are all the same" is too much populist and simple. Right and Left are not the same, both in the contents and in the appearance (so, still, i am surprised that there is still an amount of people that vote for Berlusconi). But the responsibility of a corrupted Parliament is also of the Left parties, although on a smaller scale.

The same old faces are here again


Another consequence of the electoral system is that, one legislation after another, the elected Deputies and Senators are always the same.
If the citizen cannot decide who are the bad dudes to send away and which newbies are trustworthy enough to be introduced, then, in order to maintain the power in the same hands, the blocked lists will be filled with the same names of the previous legislation.
Also in an utopian situation of perfect honesty (which is not our case at all!), this has disastrous consequences. If the party i vote for doesn't reach the majority, or at least a relevant part of the Parliament, in most of cases i believe it is due to the incapacity of that party's candidates to win against the competitors. If in the next election the same party presents as candidates the same people, i am pretty much sure that it will loose again. I vote for the Left coalition because i identify the values of that coalition, but if I am already sure that my vote is not useful to give the country a Parliament that support those values, why am i supposed to waste my vote?
In the USA there is the good habit to change the people that loose, even if they are valid people and politicians. For example i like a lot Al Gore. But, when he lost the Presidential election, he disappeared from the political scene. At least from the run to the Presidentials.
Moreover, in the USA there is also the good habit to change the people also when they win. The president of the USA mandate is only 4 years. Which can be renewed for only one other mandate, so one person can be in charge of that office for only 8 years. This is a wonderful rule, because in the worst case when the office is given to an incapable mean person (as for example George W. Bush) he cannot make so much disaster as, in proportion, in Italy Berlusconi did for over 20 years.
I don't think in Italy the same rule can strictly be applied, because for Italian Constitution the power is in the hands of the Parliament, which is made of a lot of people. If we want to limit to 8 years each Deputy/Senator mandate, it would be a mess to change them all. Nevertheless i believe some tricks can be invented so that the power is not de facto centralized always to the same small group of people.
In Italy, instead, we have no limits for the number of mandates one single person can have (there are limits in the local administrations, but not for the Parliament or other national offices. Think only that there is no limit at all for the duration of the mandate of a Presidente del Consiglio: Traditionally when the Parliament is renewed (every 5 years at most), the Government is renewed too with a new Fiducia vote, but theoretically while a Government keeps having the trust of the Parliament, the Prime Minister keeps leading the Country forever.

To tell the truth the Left is trying to change the things, in order to have some replacement of people. This goal is pursued with the Primaries.
The goal of this kind of elections is to let the citizens decide who will be the candidate of the Left that will run for the charge of Prime Minister the Political elections.
The Left few months ago, for the first time, also performed the "Primarie Parlamentari", in order to decide who to put into the blocked lists. In this way they wanted to give back the citizens the right to decide their representative in the Parliament.
I don't think that the Primarie is the correct instrument to decide the people that will run for the Parliament seats, but, within this Porcellum law, this is a good solution.
It must be said that the freedom to decide is deeply limited on who is the candidates for the Primaries.
In the Primaries 2005, for example, there were 2 main Prime Minister candidates: Pierluigi Bersani and Ignazio Marino. At the end also Dario Franceschini decided to run. Of course Bersani won, being that the newbie Marino was not very popular. The suspicious thing was that the settlement of the candidates was perfect to make so that Marino lost and Bersani won. This all look like a political game played by some "powerful ghosts" of the Left (Massimo D'Alema and Walter Veltroni), saving the look of democracy that the Primaries give. Everybody thought that Marino was the new man, nevertheless most people voted for Bersani (or Franceschini) because they wanted a strong man to fight a strong battle against Berlusconi. In other words, when a new face faces the scene of the Left, despite the Primaries, the old faces play "dirty" games to cut his wings. Similar dirty games were played this year for the Prime Minister primaries and for the Parlamentarian primaries. That's why Bersani was still the candidate for the Left and the blocked lists were still holding some of the same names (although there were also some newbies).

Antitrust


Given the criminal things he did during his Government, Berlusconi and his party lost a lot of consent. Nevertheless the expected disaster didn't happen. Nowadays Berlusconi's consent is still about 25% of the electors. 25% of Italians still believe in Berlusconi!
Why?
To obtain some consent, he filled his program with lies. For example he promised that he would have given back the IMU tax (a tax on the house that was introduced last year by Monti), without explaining where he would find enough money for that (which, especially in a period of crisis, is the real problem to solve).
Being that he didn't expect to win the elections, he didn't also expect also to keep the promise, but that program looked indeed attractive to a lot of people.
The real question is: how can a lot of people still believe that raving Clown?

Berlusconi based all his political life on the "art of appearing". He owns a half of the main mass-media in Italy, including 3 out of the 6 main TV networks. Obviously those media are allowed to show news, speak of Politics, in other words unfair canvass.
In a "normal Country" possession of media would not be compatible with the office of Politics.

When Berlusconi came to power, Italian laws were unprepared. There had never been a problem of such a conflict of interests. So, after he had the power he obviously didn't make any law to control this kind of problem. On the opposite, his Government/Parliament made laws with the precise intention to enforce his own business.
Berlusconi's power is essentially based on free propaganda of lies.

The surprising thing is that in the last 20+ years, during those few and short periods in which Berlusconi was not at the power, the Government didn't settle down any antitrust law. Why? The suspicion is that in those times there were some exchange of interests - if not of money - under the table between Berlusconi and the leaders of the Left.
My general opinion is that when somebody has the power, he doesn't want to chenge the rules. He instead wants to keep the status-quo, which means to still keep the power. Of course this is a wrong strategy, because the looser will do anything to change the status-quo. But anyway, i believe that the Government efforts should try to perceive the good of the Country, and not the good of the Party.

Public financing of political parties


Another theme that is in discussion in Italian political scene is the Finanziamento pubblico ai Partiti.
This subject would sound strange in the US, but in Italy the political parties are supported, for the electoral expenses, by public financing.
Just considering the skin of the problem, it seems like a shame that, especially during a deep economical crisis, the State wastes money on such a thing as electoral expenses.
So, abolishing public financing of Parties is always an appealing theme to the electors.
This kind of use of public money is something that irritates the citizens, also because of dishonesty of the Political class, which often used part of those money for personal interests. Just to make a minor example, from some investigations in the last months, it came out that a politician of the Left charged the fiscal receipt of the purchase of a jar of Nutella on the reimbursement of electoral expenses. Which, technically could be also legal (that jar of Nutella could be used within some kind of public event tied to the electoral campaign - i don't know...). But this expense won't ever be accepted by somebody that works hard long hours to feed his children. Of course these investigations found also bigger and more evident illegal expenses, but this case of the Nutella jar, in my opinion, is emblematic.

Parliamentarian immunity


Immunita' Parlamentare is a law that protects the Deputies/Senators and the main institutional offices of the State restricting the Judical power of the Magistrature. In theory this is done to avoid interferences among the Three Powers (Executive, Legislative, Judical), making so that the investigations about some kind of crimes cannot condition the work of the Parliament.
This law is often criminally used to protect against the public Justice, and so it has the opposite effect of making interference into the works of the Parliament.
For example Berlusconi is now under process. Everybody know he is a corrupter. For some crimes he has already be condemned (although the penalty have been invalidated by prescription). Now he is investigated about some rake-off he paid for "buying" some deputies (De Gregorio case) and for underage prostitution (Ruby case). His political games, so, are to try to obtain an institutional charge as soon as possible so that he can abuse of Parliamentarian immunity until the crime will be prescribed.
Of course citizens are kind of pissed about this behavior, and in general about this law. A normal person cannot understand why to submit to some laws while there are other people that can do pretty much whatever they want unpunished. The law should be the same for everyone, or not?

This is the context in which we went to vote last February. I'll tell my interpretations and opinions on the result in the next (and hopefully last) post. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The two clowns (part 2)


Electoral disaster


As i was saying in the last post, in Italy you need half of the Parliament, or, better, half +1 of the Deputies in the Camera and half +1 of the Senators in the Senato to obtain a Fiducia vote that can support a new Government. Half+1 is enough, but as bigger the majority is, as better it is, in fact within the Parliament, each deputy/senator is responsible for his own personal opinion (and his vote cannot be conditioned by the party he belongs to), so the deputies/senators can change their trust to the Government. This rule is meant to do so that the deputies/senators do the best for the country and not for their parties, which things, sometimes do not coincide.

Of course in the moment of the first Fiducia vote which ratify the Government, there is a reasonable certainity about the positive result of the vote, because the Presidente del Consiglio is nominated by the Presidente della Repubblica after he knows that a good enough part of the Parliament agrees with that choice. In order to estimate that choice, the Presidente della Repubblica makes a big work before the nomination. This job is called "Consultazioni". The Presidente della Repubblica formally meets each leader of the parties/Parliamentarian groups/Coalitions, one after the other, and tries to find out possible convergences of political programs that can rise an acceptable compromise among the parts. After the Consultazioni, the Presidente della Repubblica has a good estimation on which is the most stable agreement to support one candidate. The Fiducia vote's purpose is just to officially ratify what the parties/groups leaders already told the Presidente della Repubblica.

It can happen that, within a legislature period (5 years), the Parliament retires the Fiducia to the Government. Infact, if one important action of the Government for some reason does not obtain the majority of votes, the Government can ask, as an extreme measure, for a new Fiducia vote. If the Trust is given, the Government can act that action anyway, although it still does not have the support of the majority.
If the trust is not given (the result the Fiducia vote is negative), the Government is dissolved, the Presidente della Repubblica repeats the Consultazioni thing, he hopefully finds a new compromise among the parts and nominate another Presidente del Consiglio, who will nominate a new Government which will be subjected to another Fiducia vote.
It can happen that the Presidente della Repubblica, at this point, cannot find such a compromise among the parts, because the opinion of the parts are irreconciliable. Note that this is a very unfortunate event: usually there is more possible nomination as Presidente del Consiglio that can satisfy atleast the half+1 of the deputies and senators. But it can happen.
This event means that the Parliament cannot perform its main task, which is to express and support a Government. In this case the Presidente della Republica dissolve the Parliament and indict anticipated Political Elections ("Elezioni anticipate"). The citizens go to vote and elect a new Parliament in which, hopefully, the Presidente della Repubblica will be able to find a useful majority of the two chambers in order to nominate a Presidente del Consiglio and, hence, a Government.

The result of the 2013 Political Elections


The elections that we just made last week outcome with a very weird result.
There were the two main opposite coalitions: the Left (the main party is PD - Partito Democratico) and the Right (the main party is PdL - Popolo delle Liberta'). Then, historically, there was a third center coalition (UdC), which is numerically much smaller. Plus other small and unsignificant parties.
The really news of this year was M5S (Movimento 5 Stelle), which in the previous Political Election was not yet born.
In a Political Election, every coalition can suggest a candidate Presidente del Consiglio. A coalition engages to support that candidate, which thing makes the task of the Presidente della Repubblica easier and more appliable to the will of the citizens: he has to choose firstly among those elected candidates.
Follows the list of the options, with the supported candidate.
1- Left: Pierluigi Bersani
2- Right: Angelino Alfano (Berlusconi is the leader, but the candidate was Alfano)
3- Center: Mario Monti (the outgoing Presidente del Consiglio - this coalition includes UdC)
4- M5S: Gianroberto Casaleggio (the leader of the Movimento is Beppe Grillo)
5- Rivoluzione Civile: Antonio Ingroia
6- Fare per Fermare il Declino: Oscar Giannino

In this discussion i won't take in any consideration options 5 and 6, because numerically unsignificant.

Being that Berlusconi (and also a lot of people in his party) was judged corruptor and corruptable, and being that he really acted in the internal and foreign politics like a clown (clown #1 of the title of this post), the opponent coalition (Left) was expected to obtain a lot of consent among the citizens.
A lot of Berlusconi voters were expected to vote, if not for the Left, for the Center, being that Mario Monti, although performed a very rigid politics due to the international and national disastrous economical situation, was anyway very popular, helping a big raise on the international Italian credibility.
Also, some votes for Berlusconi were expected to be carried to M5S, which presented itself as a contestation movement against corruption in Politics.
In other words the expected result was a huge growth of the Left, a huge default of the Right, a good result for Monti and a some good numbers for M5S. Also a rise of the non-voters was expected (supporters of the Right are never expected to vote for the left on mass).
This could lead to an absolute majority of the Parliament for the Left, so a good opportunity for a stable Government. There still was the risk of not reaching the absolute majority in the Senate, in which case the Left could coalize upon a valid political program with Monti's Center. That was an option i wouldn't have liked, but still it was an option for a stable and secure government in a difficult situation, after almost 20 disastrous years of corruption, personal interest and degrade as prostitution in the hall of buttons of Berlusconi's Era.

The final result is that Berlusconi lost, but not so much, the Left gained, but not so much, Monti lost more than what expected and M5S, thanks also to the front man Beppe Grillo (clown #2) made a lot of consent. Also the abstention was not that big.
Thanks to the "premio di maggioranza" of the electoral system, in the Camera dei Deputati, nowadays, there is an absolute majority of the Left (with Bersani candidate prime minister), but in the Senate there is a mess.
The Left has a relative majority of Senators, but that number is not enough to reach the half+1 needed, not even adding the senators elected with Monti party (which is just a small number).
So, the only possible agreements for the Senate are these:
1) Left+Berlusconi, which, as you can imagine, the Left does not want. And i hope that won't be the conclusion, because i pray everyday that Italy won't have to bear such a jackass as Berlusconi anymore. It's humiliating.
2) Left+M5S. But, for now, the M5S refuses this solution.
Actually M5S refuses any possible alliance with other "traditional" parties, willing to stay at the opposition. It is understandable, because M5S was born for contesting against the political model, in particular with the structure of the Parties, which is accused to generate corruption and to protect the powerful hierarcs against any renovation of the Political class. In fact the elected deputies/senator of M5S are perfectly unkown people and they look like a bounch of Don Quixote fighting against windmills. On the other hands, a lot of elected deputies/senators of the big parties are the same old ones that are there since decades. Bersani himself (which i somehow like, but...) participied to the first (1996-98) and the second (2006-08) Government with Romano Prodi as Prime Minister. And he is in the PD's hierarchy since before the PD was born.
Another reason for Clown #2 not wanting to support any parties is that it is political convenience of his Movimento. If they don't participate in any Government, the Presidente della Repubblica must find an agreement between Left and Right. This will generate a very unstable Government mandate, which will probably fall after less than one year, showing everybody that nor Left nor Right is really able to govern the country, as Clown #2 keeps saying.

So, as it looks now, it seems that there is no condition of a possible agreement among the parts in order to form a majority able to support any Government. Which thing, as i was saying above, should lead to anticipate elections, called by the Presidente della Repubblica.

Personally i don't like this solution, because we just voted one week ago, so i don't see how the opinion of the citizens would be different now, after nothing happened.
Or, worse, it could be that the citizens would find out that this disaster we have after these past elections, are a proof that the traditional Politics cannot give an answer to the needs of the citizens, so, a new election would lead to an even more powerful Clown #2 (Beppe Grillo), which would lead to an even more difficult situation.

And, anyway, if this is not enough, there is another problem that complicates the situation even more.

The White Semester


As i was explaining in the previous post, the Parliament is renewed every 5 years (or when there is no more valid Trust in a Fiducia vote). The Presidente della Repubblica, instead, is elected every 7 years (or earlier in case of death or resignation).
The Parliament is renewed when the Presidente della Repubblica dissolves it and the Presidente della Repubblica is renewed by mean of elections by the Parliament.
Therefore there is a contraddiction of facts if the mandate of the Presidente della Repubblica terminates when there is no available Parliament to elect a new one. In that case there would be no Presidente della Repubblica to ratify a Parliament and no Parliament to elect a new Presidente della Repubblica.

There is a special law that is meant to avoid this contraddiction: during a period of six month before the expiration of the Presidente della Repubblica mandate, the Presidente della Repubblica cannot anticipately dissolve the Parliament. This period is called "Semestre Bianco" (White Semester). Kind of obvious why "Semester"; don't ask me why "White"...

Anyway, to complicate the actual situation, Giorgio Napolitano's mandate expires on May 2013. So, we hare in the right middle of the Semestre Bianco.
So, if there is no way to find an agreement between Left and M5S or between Left and Right, there is total ingovernability, because the Parliament is not able to ratify a Government, but in the same time it cannot be renewed.

To tell the truth, there is a last option. The so-called "Governo di Minoranza" (Minority Government).
Although the minority parties (Right and M5S) still declare not to support the proposed government, a big share of the Senators decide to abstain. In this way the absolute majority in the Senate can be reached with the favor of a minority of the Senators. This is a conscentious resolution of the opponency. It is also called "Non Sfiducia" ("un-mistrust"?!?). In this way the Government can be effective, but it's obvious that it cannot assume a support by the Parliament when some important actions need to be taken, because as there is one decision to be voted, also the deputies/senators that declared not to trust (or, better didn't declare to trust) the Government will be asked to vote.

Of course this solution is not desirable, being that it's not stable.
But it can be adopted in order to take few and limited actions for few months untill a new Presidente della Repubblica will be elected and will be able to call for new Political Elections.

This is the description (of mine) of the disastrous political situation we have in Italy.
It's more interesting to analyze the reasons we arrived to such a situation. I will give my opinion in the next post. Stay tuned!

Friday, March 1, 2013

The two clowns (part 1)


The purpose of this post is to answer some hints that my blog-friend Dick gives me:

I am curious what thoughts you might have on this:
Italy just had an election to give the proletariat what they want.
What motivates voters to make such a decision?
Is the driving force a desire for power by the Ruling Class to get elected at any cost?
Is it in fact a good thing for the economy of Italy in the long run.
I am curious how you feel about this.

[editing after writing the draft of this post: While i was writing this post, i realized that the subject is so big and articulated that i will never be able to finish in a reasonable amount of time, so i will split it in severan ones. This first is about the rules that drive the politics in Italy]

Rules


We recently had "Political" elections.
I'd like to make at first a digression to explain what it does mean "political" elections upon the electoral rules we have in Italy.
In Italy this type of elections are meant to renew the two Parliament chambers: the "Senato della Repubblica" and the "Camera dei Deputati". It is the most important type of elections in Italy, being that in our Republic, the State is leaded by the Parliament (and not, as it happens in USA, for example, by the President of the USA).
Unfortunately we have an electoral law open to the risk that, upon some conditions, it can give ingovernability to the Parliament (although few years ago it was changed in order to be safer than the previous one). I think i'll make a digression later about this.
Those unfortunate conditions just happened at this last elections.
I try hereby to explain better:
As i said, in Italy we vote every five years to elect the people that seat on the seats of the Parliament (315 senators and 630 deputies). Every seven years, the Parliament elects the "Presidente della Repubblica" (which usually is a super-partes Senator that ensures imparciality). The one currently in charge is Giorgio Napolitano. One of the main tasks of the Presidente della Repubblica is to nominate a "Presidente del Consiglio dei Ministri" (the Prime Minister). Mario Monti was the last one.
The Prime Minister himself/herself nominates the "Ministri della Repubblica" (Ministers). The number and the tasks of this team ("Consiglio dei Ministri" - the Government) is variable upon the program that the Presidente del Consiglio intends to develop during his/her mandate. Usually it is a dozen to twenty people.
Although the Prime Minister is nominated by the Presidente della Repubblica, his charge is mainly based on the Parliament, because, since the Government's decisions are voted by the Parliament, the Government itself needs the explicit support of atleast the half of the Senators in the Senato and the Deputies in the Camera. This "explicit support" is named "Fiducia". After the nomination of the Prime Minister by the Presidente della Repubblica, the Prime Minister selects and nominates the Ministers to form the Government, and after that, the Parliament is called to a first Fiducia vote, in order to to check out that the Government has in fact the support of the half of the Parliament.
Italian Republic is based on a sharp division of the three powers: Legislative (run by the Parlamento), Executive (run by the Consiglio dei Ministri) and Judical (run by the Magistratura).
The Magistrature is directly leaded by the Presidente della Repubblica, the Parliament is leaded by the Presidente della Camera and the Presidente del Senato, the Consiglio dei Ministri is leaded by the Prime Minister.
Presidente della Repubblica, Presidente della Camera and Presidente del Senato are elected by the Parliament. The Prime Minister is nominated by the Presidente della Repubblica and is supported by the Parliament. As you see, all the Powers are based on the Parliament, which is elected by the citizens.

All the actions to run the Country, both for relationship with foreign countries and for internal policy are of course taken by the Government.
So, you can see, although the main "institutional" power is kept by the Presidente della Repubblica, which has also the task to prevent any interference among the Three Powers, the one leads the Country is the Prime Minister.

As i was telling before, in order to lead the country the Prime Minister and his Consiglio dei Ministri need the trust (Fiducia) of the Parliament. The ENTIRE Parliament: both the Camera dei Deputati and the Senato della Repubblica. Which means that a Government needs the support of the absolute majority in the Senato (50% +1 of the senators) and the absolute majority in the Camera (50%+1 of the deputies).

Being that in Italy we don't have, only 2 parties (such as it happens in America, omitting Nader), this means that if after the elections there is not a party/condition that obtains the absolute majority in both the chambers, the Prime Minister needs to ask for an agreement to other parties, untill the amount of senators and deputies is enough big. Of course such an agreement is possible only if there is an acceptable compromise within the program.
If such an agreement cannot be found the Government is not considered stable, although, theoretically, it can still lead. The problem is that in a Minority Government, when an action to be taken is needed to be supported by a vote of the Parliament, the result of that vote is not predictable, being that the votes against could be more than the votes for at any moment.
When an agreement on a single decision, cannot be found, the action cannot be taken, or the Prime Minister asks the Parlament for a Fiducia vote. If the absolute majority of the parliaments is OK, the action can be taken anyway. If not, the government is dismissed. In this case the Presidente della Repubblica tries to find another Prime Minister that form another Government which hopefully has the Trust of the Parliament. If such a Prime Minister cannot be found, also the Parliament is dismissed, and new elections must be performed. I believe that it is theoretically possible that only one chamber is dismissed, in which case the elections are performed only for that chamber. But this never happened in the history of Italian Republic, and i am not sure what kind of scenary this can drive to.

Of course the number of the senators and deputies is given by some rules in the electoral law, basing on the votes of the citizens (although i don't like, the number of the elected is not exactly proportional to the number of the electors that voted for them).
One could guess that the proportion of the number of elected Senators of a particular party within the Senato is similar to the proportion of the number of elected Deputies of that party within the Camera. In fact, when an elector goes to vote, he is given two voting papers (one for each chamber): we can presume that he will vote on both for the same party.
Unfortunately it's not that simple.

The Camera's Deputies are elected by a proportional law on the whole national territory, with a "sbarramento" and a "premio di maggioranza".
The "sbarramento" is a mechanism intended to eliminate any too small party. If a party or a coaliotion of parties doesn't reach a minimum percentage of votes, it doesn't gain any deputy at all. That party is excluded from the Camera.
The party or coalition that makes the best will add extra deputies enough to reach a minimum of 340 (which is the absolute majority of the Camera.

For the Senate the mechanism is very similar, but it is evaluated on a regional base.
Italian territory is divided in 20 regions. Each region assigns a number of senators proportional to the amounto of inhabitants of that region (for example Lombardy is worth 47 senators, being that it is has a lot of inhabitants, while Valle d'Aosta only 1 Senator since not a big lot of people live in that mountainous region). The Senators elected on each region compose the entire Senate.

Therefore, being that the mechanism to elect the Senate is different from the one to elect the Camera, the power of a particular party within one of the two chambers could be different from the power of that party within the other chamber.

Moreover the electors of the Camera are all the citizens over 18 years old, while the electors of the Senate are all the citizens over 25 years old. Being that a portion of the electors vote for the Camera but not for the Senate, the distribution of the votes can be even more different.

At the end one party/coalition will have the relative majority of votes in the Camera, which fact will give that party/coalition the absolute majority of deputies. But it is not ensured that the same party/coalition, although it had the majority of the votes in the Senate, it doesn't obtain the absolute majority of the Senators number.

And this is exactly what happened in these last elections.

...but this will be delayed to the next episode...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Five


10/10/2007