Monthly Archives: April 2013

The Iron Lady is gone, but Thatcherism is alive and well.

I have written a commentary on Thatcherism and its lasting influence on the austerity programmes in UK and Europe. It was published by the GlobalPost, click here to read it.

See below a couple of extracts:

“In Thatcher’s vision of a post-Soviet world, a global market freed from the constraints of national intervention and the threat of communism would become the main social institution to deliver freedom and prosperity for all. She greatly helped in making free markets the ideological reality of our times, infiltrating all sectors of the national and international governance structures, filtering out all the way to NGOs and civil society.

Contemporary European leaders might lack the conviction and the doctrinal coherence of the Iron Lady, but they are de facto walking in her footsteps. As they carry out austerity programs, they advocate a similar policy rationale: the short-term traumatic effects of cutting social welfare and letting the economy adjust itself in the midst of a global recession will be written off by the long-term beneficial effects of growth.”

[…]

“The last few days have seen the constant streaming on national media of tributes and hagiographic narratives culminating in an expensive funeral bankrolled from public coffers. Thatcher received the same honors previously accorded to Lady Diana and the Queen Mother.

Meanwhile, millions of Britons are feeling the hit of the cuts, struggling to pay bills and feed their families. Many of them still remember the trauma of the 1980s. They are now going through it all over again as their standards of living continue to drop.”

[…]

“Current debates on the future of Britain are focused on obscure numbers and unlikely projections that dress up the massive downsizing of the welfare state in inaccessible specialist jargon. People are supposed to feel reassured that, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility, the government is on course to meet its “fiscal mandate for the cyclically adjusted current budget in balance or surplus five years” from now.

What does this mean for the millions of people who are unemployed or underemployed? Where will the real economy be in 2015? Will highly qualified youth find a job that suits their skills and aspirations? Has anything been done to avoid a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis?

Cameron’s vague answers are a far cry from the promise of democracy and prosperity that filled Thatcher’s charismatic speeches.”

 

Berlusconi’s new prominence casts shadows over Italy’s future

I have written a commentary on Silvio Berlusconi’s comeback and the worrying implications of his prolonged permanence in frontline politics for the future of Italy. It was published today by the GlobalPost, you can click here to read it.

I paste below a couple of extracts:

“During the electoral campaign, Berlusconi’s distinctive mix of charm and propaganda proved crucial in winning the hearts of millions of Italians. He offered an interpretation of current events that appealed to people’s everyday concerns and their desires for change. […] Riding the wave of widespread anti-European sentiments, the tycoon rebranded himself as the enemy of European technocracy. He was now adamantly fighting to restore national pride and bring back economic prosperity. He miraculously managed to present himself both as a potential prime minister of a mainstream government and as an anti-establishment agent provocateur.”

[…]

“While the majority of Italians are critical of Berlusconi’s questionable conduct in private and public affairs, there are others who see him as a victim of judiciary persecution. Why are all these court cases “converging” on Berlusconi? Is Berlusconi the only one to blame for Italy’s endemic corruption?
According to the ex-premier, a select group of judges is abusing the law and advocates the right to undemocratically decide who is and who is not fit for office. His arguments are supported by many ordinary citizens who are weary of the notoriously slow and inefficient judicial system.
There is a real chance that at least one of these trials might produce a final verdict in the next months, possibly banning Berlusconi from public office, or even sending him to jail.”