04 October, 2012

Italy: where now

'Monti bis' - the idea of a second term for the unelected Mario Monti - has been the main discussion point for some months in the Italian press.

Monti's satisfaction rates are high. Some think he has gone too far, some think he has not gone far enough, but few Italians dispute that he has, on balance, been a good thing, relative to what they had before. And I don't just mean Silvio: Prodi, d'Alema, Amato, none of them have gone remotely towards addressing Italy's problems. Indeed none of them went remotely towards allowing the populace to discuss what those problems were.

Now there have been some cuts, not too much, and the markets are quiet. And with the arrival of the raucous Beppe Grillo and his Five Star Movement, people and the press are talking about corruption. The regional governments in Emilia Romagna (Milan) and Lazio (Rome) have been found out, and everyone believes there will be more to come. The papers are littered with petty corruption stories, the courts stuffed with the alleged perpetrators. This never happened before.

So feelings, if not high, are towards glimpsing some modest flicker at the end of a long tunnel. The people would prefer another dose of Monti to some of the old guys leading the major parties: the 61 year old former communist Bersani, who was President of Emilia Romagna 20 years ago in the bad old days; 76 year old Silvio, whose baggage I don't need to list here; Fini, Casini, Di Pietro, none of them inspire.

But the problem with Monti, at least as far as the electorate is concerned, is, as I mentioned in the first paragraph, the fact that he is unelected. However comfortable things may be, in the final analysis the Italian voter knows that Italy is, and must be, a democracy. To have Monti bis, he will have to submit himself to the electorate. Monti himself has publicly shown a distaste for party politics, and whilst temptingly letting it be known that he might be prepared to serve again, has said it would only be under particular (unfortunate) circumstances. By this he means if no party can form a government next spring. But this is unlikely and far from desirable.

Will Monti give in, create his own party list and submit to the voters? Some believe so, many hope so. My own guess is that he will encourage some moderate realists who will then adopt him as leader, President or mascot. There is a candidate I mentioned as long ago as April last year, here: Luca Cordero di Montezemolo. The cartoon above, from the brilliant Gianelli in the Corriere della Sera, cribs Michelangelo to show Monti giving the Ferrari chairman life.

PS Thanks to my art adviser I have properly attributed the Creation of Adam to Michelangelo rather than Leonardo. I know, I know.

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