Wishing on Europe

Until a few weeks ago Prof. Monti, head of a techno-government in Italy, categorically excluded that he would be prepared to serve any further after his government expiry date of April 2013. It is certain no more; plied with questions from journalists in the US last week he hesitantly muttered “I am a senator and it is not my intention that to run for a political government, however, should my President ask to serve the Country for still some time then I would reconsider my position”. This interview caused a great turmoil within Italian parties who were already positioning themselves to lure a vastly sceptical electorate.

Scourged with malversation by some of their members, Italian parties are struggling to mend their ‘façade’ with promises to put their houses in order; quite an enterprise given that scandals are announced with weekly timing, especially at local regional cabinets.

A few days ago news was broken by prosecutors that Mr LaVitola, a wheeler-dealer on Berlusconi payroll, wrote an itemized letter to his ‘principal’ demanding a reimbursement of funds used for having bribed a number of ministers acting in the former Prodi government causing this to fall. Another item concerned Mr Fini, present lower-house speaker and former Berlusconi ally, for having produced false documents to discredit him.

This last outcome will probably convince Mr Berlusconi to definitely renounce to run again for next elections….to the relief in many European and American quarters.

Is Mr Monti really indispensable in Italy? Although no one in this world is indispensable, certain circumstances may induce a country to persist in a course of action for a limited time. There were technocratic governments in Italy for a longer time, with Giuliano Amato (June 1992–April 1993), Carlo Azeglio Ciampi (April 1993–May 1994), and Lamberto Dini (January 1995–May 1996).

The present technocratic government is engaged in the overhauling of the Italian economy, its functioning and –possibly- injecting kind of an inductive moralization. Its action began by securing the primary budget while engaging with structural liberalization measures; the first action is apparently successful while the second is still incomplete and what has already been approved was achieved with substantial difficulties, both in parliament and because of unhappy corporation lobbies.

Allowing for the six months’ lapse to the deadline, the present government will not have completed its mission. Why a technocratic government led by Mr Monti could still be useful?

  • Several laws have passed “by decree” due to fierce resistance in parliament, denoting as well what may happen with a political government composed of the same elements;
  • The civil law is to be re-written, especially the part concerning company regulations, presently burdened with cumbersome articles discouraging new undertakings;
  • Investments needed to re-ignite growth: public works, research, school, reduce company taxation;
  • Approve an anti-corruption law, currently in discussion in parliament but encumbered with trade-offs posed by PDL (Berlusconi). Do notice that several members sitting in parliament have outstanding cases with justice;
  • Give time to parliament to approve a new electoral law to enable voters to choose individual candidates (nominated candidates can only be elected at present);
  • Supervise the sale of obsolete public buildings in order to reduce public debt;
  • Restructure the health apparatus replacing political positions with competent managers producing economies of scale;
  • More extensive structural liberalizations of: pharmacies, pump-stations, taxis and dismantling of professional orders: lawyers, surveyors…;
  • Restructure the civil constructions system, presently composed of myriads of little firms that regularly go bankrupt or wind-up their activity upon completion of a building to dodge responsibility.

Can’t a political government accomplish all that?

A new electoral law is lagging in parliament for several months without parties being able to come to an agreement. Six months to elections, there is no vision about likely coalitions being forged. Recent polls suggest that the Left is likely to win with a 25% of votes; the Right is rated at 15-20% while abstentions are estimated at a whopping 30%. Would these last back prof. Monti?!

To woo voters, the Left is promising to “adjust” recently approved laws while the Right would scrap the recently introduced house taxation and would loosen “the straitjacket imposed by the EU”.

However, none of the parties has thought of amending their statute with the introduction of an article prohibiting the election of members offending the law and/or charged with prosecution.

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