Saturday, November 12, 2011

Homage to Italy (by Pedja dell'Arno)

Bye, bye Berlusconi, and please don't come back. Today has finished one of the paradoxes that has characterized Italy in the recent times. The country of Claudio Magris, Roberto Benigni, Umberto Eco, some of the greatest economists, scientists and philosophers. The country where people are articulate and educated, where people read and talk about politics. But also the country of the Vatican, the Mafia, and Berlusconi. That country has just decided in favour of decency. More than two decades ago, when the political system that he was trying to buy collapsed, he decided to perform one of the clearest examples of political vertical integration that could be seen. Instead of buying political parties, he decided to create his own. He managed to become prime minister, and during his rule he kept the ownership of his media firms, his football club, and spent most of his political time and capital trying to protect himself from judicial action derived from his implication in all sorts of corruption scandals. In the last days, the events have accelerated, but perhaps it is time to draw a few lessons:
-Although external pressure has been a key accelerator, the organized pressure from ordinary citizens and from the left were there to help make evident to anyone that Berlusconi was not a necessity.
-A President that emerged from decades of left-wing politics, Giorgio Napolitano, has been key to show that democratic institutions could show a way forward.
-Markets have been in this instance a force for good (that's what economics shows us, right? that markets may be good under some conditions...), and a technocrat will lead the solution, but the responsibility and seriousness of the center-left will make it possible that Italy (and from it the rest of Europe) has a future.

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