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)
(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).


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 Steinbrück (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.


Jonzie said...

Dario I have really enjoyed these posts! we are on the same page, very clear analysis :)

Jonzie said...

just came across this:

tychecat said...

Hi Dario
I just posted a long comment on this post - which Blogger promptly ate.
Short form: Thank for the postss - I'll pass them on