Tag Archives: italy

Italy’s populist alliance and the national anti-migrant consensus


The League’s Matteo Salvini and the Five Star’s Luigi Di Maio have entered into coalition to form a government in Italy [AP]

You can read my latest piece for Al Jazeera English on the newly formed populist alliance between the far right League and post-ideological Five Star Movement.

Here is an extract:

‘On the surface, the Five Star Movement and the League don’t have much in common. One was founded by an Italian comedian who talked of direct democracy, anti-corruption policies and a green economy. The other has its roots in a secessionist movement, calling for the wealthier north to separate from the “underdeveloped” south, and is currently pursuing an anti-migrant agenda.

In reality, the two parties have never been that different, and their recent convergence is not accidental. Both focused their election campaigns on the grievances of the “white Italian majority” which is afraid of being sidelined by liberal elites and migrants and losing their middle-class privileges.’


Varoufakis announces pan-European movement to “democratise the EU”

In a recent interview for the Italian magazine L’Espresso, former finance minister of Greece Yanis Varoufakis announces the formation of a new Pan-European movement in February 2016, with the aim to democratise the EU, rather than working for its dissolution.

“Without a doubt, if we continue along the lines of present policies, that have failed so spectacularly, the centrifugal forces will get so strong that the Eurozone first, and then the EU, will fragment. … No one can tell where the rupture will take place. Maybe in Greece, maybe in Italy, maybe somewhere else. Like in the case of the Soviet Union, where it was impossible to predict how its end would come … we know that the present course is catastrophic for the EU even if ignorant of what will trigger it.”

Friuli-Venezia Giulia introduces a minimum income experiment

I am now a contributing editor of Basic Income News, the media platform of the Basic Income Earth Network. My latest piece reports on the introduction of a minimum income experiment in the  Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Friuli leads a resurgence of similar measures in other regions across the country.

It is still far from a guaranteed minimum income, and certainly set at low monetary values – more like a measure to counter extreme poverty than anything. Despite this, it is an important step forward in a country that has no national guaranteed minimum income or universal unemployment subsidy.

Three proposals for a national guaranteed minimum income have been deposited in the national parliament, but none of them have reached the crucial stage of a parliamentary vote.

Italy, a crisis of democracy

I strongly recommend this video interview on Al Jazeera with Emma Bonino, vice-president of the Italian senate. One of the most authoritative Italian politicians and activists, with a strong track record of radical reformist political activity in Italy and abroad, talks about Italy and the current crisis. While I don’t agree with her firm support for Monti’s technocratic government, I definitely share her views on the underlying causes of the disastrous state of affairs in Italy. She is right when she says that the Italian party system is the primary cause of the current crisis, and the main obstacle to its resolution.

Italian parties are not really accountable to their constituencies. They are let free by inadequate legal requirements to do as they wish with excessive amounts of public funds, which they use to establish political consensus through continuous financing of clienteles. They are also supported by an electoral law that gives them the power to decide through blocked lists who is elected to parliament, with no voice from citizens to choose their own candidates.

As Emma Bonino says, Italian parties have no real intention to change. This is why so-called “anti-politics” protest movements, like the 5 Star Movement led by comedian and activist Beppe Grillo, are shooting up in the polls, and the number of people who do not intend to vote at the next general elections increases by the day. The Italian crisis is first of all a crisis of democracy.

Berlusconi’s shadow looms over Italian politics

Berlusconi’s jail sentence might sound like good news, but it is not. Just two days ago he solemnly announced he would not run for prime minister at the next election. Now he is saying he is thinking about a serious comeback to protect all Italians that like him get unfairly “persecuted” by the justice system. Berlusconi’s ghost has not abandoned Italy quite yet, and it’s not likely to do so in the near future.

Should governments with low bond yields borrow substantially to kickstart the economy?

A well-written recent article on Slate points out that most governments today can borrow on their bond markets at incredibly low rates. The article goes on to suggest that what governments should do is to borrow substantial amounts to inject into the economy to kickstart growth. Forget about Italy, Spain and Greece, rates have never been so low for most countries, says the author. My question to people who know more about the ins and outs of the global economy would be: aren’t these low rates connected to the unsustainably high rates of major economies like Spain and Italy? Is there a message there from investors saying to other countries “if you do the same, you’ll end up like Italy and Spain”? Or is there really?