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Italy and the Blame Game

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It seems we will finally have a government, in Italy. After the denial of the Democratic Party (PD) to even discuss with the Five Stars Movement (M5S) on a common political platform, the only viable alternative was to try an alliance between the M5S and the League. All those who blame this M5S-League Government, should remember that, otherwise, we should have gone back to the polls, with even higher risks of instability.

It is of course too early to judge the new Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, but we have two sources to assess where he (and his alliance) might be heading to: his speech after he was asked to form the Government by the President of the Italian Republic Mattarella; and the governmental contract signed by the two supporting parties.

The common feature of those two documents is what we might call ‘the blame game’: if anything is wrong with the Italian economic, social, political situation it’s ‘their fault’. It does not matter whether “they” is Europe, the euro, the Left, the immigrants, the Chinese competition, or whatever/whoever else. In any case it’s something exogenous to our system, that should (and can) be fenced off.

Unfortunately, our problems are mainly dependent upon endogenous economic, social, political dynamics and even exogenous issues can be hardly fenced off.

Corruption; several kinds of mafias at every level of public politics; inefficient public administration; structural lack of investments in strategic policies such as innovation, education, alternative energies; perverse connections between the political and the banking system are all flaws that depend upon us, for which we cannot blame anyone else.

At the same time the euro, the European Union, global competition are certainly threats that need to be governed; but they require credibility to ‘sit at the table’ with the other European and global actors, to change the perspectives of European integration, to reinforce cooperation and effective collective policy-making, a common strategy on crucial matters such as defence and security policies, migrations, international cooperation, provision of Eu-wide public goods.

Of course, there might be a different way to read all this: it might be that the strategy of the new government is to ride nationalistic feelings in order to acquire a stronger negotiating power within the European Union.

It might well be that the euro is not the true target, but the perverse and inefficient governance of the euro-area is. It might be that a stricter stance against immigration is a prelude to asking a more efficient and collective responsibility from the other Eu countries. And it might be that a radical expansionary fiscal policy might quickly lead to an exceptional growth of the Gdp, so that the Debt/Gdp ratio improves and that the Stability and Growth Pact provisions are respected. It might be. But this all might also lead to a marginalization of Italy from all the changes in the European integration process that Macron suggested, making the Eu a more resilient and effective actor in economic and political affairs, and that Italy needs more than other Eu countries. In the next weeks, we shall know which approach will be pursued. And in a few months, if it worked, or turned out to be a disaster.

Posted by Fabio Masini - Contribution to the forthcoming newsletter of CESIUB at Belgrano University (Argentina):  https://www.schoolandcollegelistings.com/AR/Buenos-Aires/1051223191571984/Ciencia-Pol%C3%ADtica-y-Relaciones-Internacionales-UB

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