Sunday, 28 November 2010

Garbage Hiding Under the Mask


(Rita Willaert, Napels - Naples)

[Edoardo Montenegro, Turin] - The dream is over: the Campania Region sinks into the trash, while citizens protest (1). In spite of Silvio Berlusconi promising that Naples would have been cleaned within three days  (2), the European Union reported that the situation has changed very little since 2008 (3).

Meanwhile, harsh tensions rose within the Government (4). Actually, according to Giuseppe D'Avanzo, the Italian Prime Minister would be under blackmail and a faction of his party controlled by the Camorra (5).

The trash crisis in Naples dates back to 1994, when state of emergency was declared and a commissioner appointed to solve the problem (6). Fifteen years later Silvio Berlusconi triumphantly celebrated the end of the crisis (7).

But the truth was deeper.

As masterly demonstrated by Roberto Saviano in "Gomorrah", Southern Italy is overloaded with rubbish coming from Northern Italy: businesses from the rich Po Valley find cheaper to hand over their garbage to the Camorra, instead of abiding the rules to legally dump waste (8).

The documentary movie "Biutiful Cauntri" clearly explains that a fifteen-year-long state of emergency was incredibly lucrative for irregular businessmen, corrupted politicians and the Camorra itself: safety and environmental rules were indeed removed, making the cake bigger than ever (9).

As Sergio Rizzo remarked, the responsibility lies on public administrators, while citizens of Southern Italy had to put up with their decisions (10). All the more reason, the problem concerns Italy as a whole: as Giorgio Bocca wrote, in Northern Italy not only is Mafia visibile, but it rules the roost (11).

Ezio Mauro is right in saying that protests are a gleam of light into the dark: "They told us that there were just the people, standing in permanent and direct dialogue with the leader. Here they are, instead: citizens are back" (12).

__________

(1) Laura Viggiano - Reuters, "Garbage crisis in Naples sparks protests, vandalism", theglobeandmail.com, October 21st 2010.

(2) "Berlusconi: 'Napoli pulita in tre giorni', corriere.it, October 28th 2010.

(3) "Italy: Naples trash crisis 'as bad as 2008' says EU", adnkronos.com, November 22nd 2010.

(4) Silvia Aloisi - Reuters, "Naples trash crisis highlights Berlusconi weakness", thestar.com, November 23rd 2010.

(5) Giuseppe D'Avanzo, "Il premier sotto ricatto", repubblica.it, November 20th 2010.

(6) "Sedici anni di emergenza rifiuti", ilpost.com, October 24th 2010.

(7) "Berlusconi says Naples rubbish crisis is over", euronews.com, March 29th 2009.

(8) On "Gomorrah" by Roberto Saviano, you can read the following review: Rachel Donadio "Underworld", nytimes.com, November 25th 2007.

(9) "Biutiful Countri", a documentary movie by Esmeralda Calabria and Andrea D'Ambrosio, was premiered in November 2007 at the Torino Film Festival, where it received a special mention (wikipedia.org).

(10) Sergio Rizzo, "Il fronte dei rifiuti che divide Nord e Sud", corriere.it, November 26th 2010.

(11) Giorgio Bocca, "Il nord inquinato", repubblica.it, November 20th 2010.

(12) Ezio Mauro, "Il ritorno dei cittadini", repubblica.it, November 26th 2010.






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Sunday, 21 November 2010

Chickens Come Home to the Roost


(Felix_Nine, Chaos 4 Fun)

[Edoardo Montenegro, Turin] - As the crisis approaches the Parliament, Italy seems beyond a point of no return (1). After passing the financial stability law, on December 14th lawmakers will have to decide whether to pull the plug on the Government or not (2).

As Gianfranco Fini announced in his speech in Perugia, this week officials belonging to Future and Freedom resigned from the Government (3). Moreover, the Minister of Equal Opportunities Mara Carfagna is now threatening to quit (4).

Even though everything seems lost, Silvio Berlusconi is not willing to give up (5). He is now asking for what is constitutionally impossible (6): early elections to be called just for the Chamber of Deputies and not for the Senate (7).

Unfortunately, Italy is facing at the same time a deep political crisis and the world economic turmoil (8): in this context, early elections look incredibly dangerous (9). Given for granted that Silvio Berlusconi will not be able to gain support from the Parliament, his opponents and former allies will have to get together in order to face several emergences.

First, a newly-appointed government will have to reform the electoral law following the French or the German model (10).

Second, the conflict of interest in the media has to be immediately removed (11).

Third, Italy has a lot of work to do in order to redress its economic system and hold down public debt, starting from investing soon in new sectors and increasing the average size of businesses (12).

If Silvio Berlusconi steps down, the Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti might be asked to replace him (13). Otherwise, the Governor of the Bank Italy Mario Draghi is the most suitable candidate to keep together an extremely heterogeneous constitutional coalition (14).

Hard is the road to freedom.

_________

(1) Claudio Tito, "Il momento della verità", repubblica.it, November 13th 2010.

(2) "Camera e Senato: fiducia il 14 dicembre. Bossi: 'Governo fino a 27 marzo'", repubblica.it, November 16th 2010.

(3) Stacy Meichtry, "New Resignations Add Pressure on Berlusconi", online.wsj.com, November 16th 2010.

(4) Carmelo Lopapa, "Mara tradita nell'ultima battaglia: 'Ormai nel partito comandano gli affaristi'", repubblica.it, November 20th 2010.

(5) Marcello Sorgi, "Il Cavaliere tenta la riscossa", lastampa.it, November 15th 2010.

(6) Gustavo Zagrebelsky, "La Costituzione privatizzata", repubblica.it, November 16th 2010.

(7) Stefano Rodotà, "Lo scioglimento ad personam", repubblica.it, November 15th 2010.

(8) Mario Deaglio, "L'Italia nel mezzo di due crisi", lastampa.it, November 13th 2010.

(9) Eugenio Scalfari, "L'ultima minaccia di Mackie Messer", repubblica.it, November 14th 2010.

(10) Giovanni Sartori, "Una repubblica assai confusa", corriere.it, November 18th 2010.

(11) Barbara Spinelli, "L'Italia del sottosuolo", repubblica.it, November 17th 2010.

(12) Gian Maria Gros-Pietro, "Il Paese si svegli, serve una scossa", Il Messaggero, November 15th 2010.

(13) Antonella Rampino, "Veltroni: 'La Lega è cambiata. Vuole Tremonti premier'", lastampa.it, November 21st 2010.

(14) Tonia Mastrobuoni, "Se l'Irlanda precipita Draghi a Palazzo Chigi", il Riformista, November 17th 2010.

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Sunday, 14 November 2010

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Italian


(Grevel, dozer)

[Edoardo Montenegro, Turin] - The crisis of the Italian Government deepened last Sunday, when Gianfranco Fini - Parliament speaker and former ally of Silvio Berlusconi - spoke in Perugia at the first convention of his party, Future and Freedom, asking Silvio Berlusconi to resign (1).

A week later, as Silvio Berlusconi is silently coming back from the G20 meeting in Seoul (2), a motion of confidence called by the Democratic Party and the Italy of Values waits for him at the Chamber of Deputies, while his allies called a rival motion at the Italian Senate, where he looks stronger (3).

The reaction of the financial markets was sharp: the yield on 10-year government bonds rose in a week from 3.93% to 4.287% (4). The President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano was firm in explaining that a government crisis must not come before the Financial Stability Law for 2011 is passed (5).

A formal crisis would probably lead to a Center-Right government held by someone else than Berlusconi (6). Liberation is probably coming, but it is not time to call for a celebration (7): despite his weakness, indeed, Silvio Berlusconi is still the one ready for early elections (8). All the more reasons, his rivals now stand together against him, but they are likely to split again soon (9).

Adriano Sofri wittily explained that it looks as if Italians had to choose between the Constitution and prostitution (10), the dream of Eugenio Scalfari still being too far: Italians choosing between a republican Center-Right government and a reformist Center-Left government (11).

In the meantime, a new goverment will have to face tough economic problems: the lack of productivity (12), the insufficient competition on the service sector (13) and the difficulty for young people to make ends meet (14).

__________

(1) Generazione Italia, "Discorso di Fini alla convention di Perugia - video", generazioneitalia.it.

(2) Francesco Bei, "E Berlusconi fugge da Seul", repubblica.it, November 12th 2010.

(3) "Governo, è guerra delle mozioni", repubblica.it, November 13th 2010.

(4) Read the following articles on the subject:
  • Federico Fubini, "Mercati in fibrillazione per i titoli italiani: da mesi non succedeva", corriere.it, November 8th 2010
  • Christopher Emsden, "Berlusconi looks secure, for now, amid attacks", The Wall Street Journal Europe, November 9th 2010
  • "Lo spread tra Btp e Bund al massimo dall'introduzione dell'Euro", repubblica.it, November 12th 2010
(5) Umberto Rosso, "Napolitano: prioritario approvare la finanziaria", repubblica.it, November 9th 2010.

(6) Marcello Sorgi, "La crisi è aperta", lastampa.it, November 8th 2010.

(7) Massimo Giannini, "E' arrivato il 25 aprile", repubblica.it, November 8th 2010.

(8) Guy Dinmore, "Berlusconi thrown a lifeline", ft.com, November 8th 2010.

(9) Massimo Franco, "L'asse del Nord", corriere.it, November 9th 2010.

(10) Adriano Sofri, "L'abuso di potere/10", repubblica.it, November 7th 2010.

(11) Eugenio Scalfari, "L'ultima partita a scacchi del Cavaliere", repubblica.it, November 7th 2010.

(12) Mario Draghi, "Un mix di ostacoli alla competitività", ilsole24ore.com, November 6th 2010.

(13) Bill Emmott, "Made in Italy alla prova della realtà", lastampa.it, November 7th 2010.

(14) Tito Boeri, "Conti, l'inno alla miopia", repubblica.it, November 10th 2010.


Related article in English

Related articles in Italian
  • Massimo Giannini, "In fondo al pozzo", repubblica.it, November 5th 2010
  • Miguel Gotor, "L'italia un satellite immobile senza idee", ilsole24ore.info, November 7th 2010
  • Carlo De Benedetti, "C'era una volta la buona politica", ilsole24ore.com, November 10th 2010
  • Jacques Attali, "Il decalogo per salvare l'Italia", repubblica.it, November 11th 2010
  • Giuseppe D'Avanzo, "L'abuso di potere/12", repubblica.it, November 11th 2010
  •  
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    Sunday, 7 November 2010

    The Fall of the Night Club Regime


    (Kjpm, Berlusconi?)

    [Edoardo Montenegro, Turin] - The Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is facing a new scandal. Italian newspapers reported that on May 27th, at night, he called Milan police to ask the release of a 17 year-old Moroccan girl who was under custody for allegedly stealing cash. The girl - nicknamed Ruby - had previously attended parties at Silvio Berlusconi's villa in Arcore (1).

    Did Silvio Berlusconi commit an abuse of power? (2) News reports seems at least to show that his court works relentlessly to satisfy his private pleasures (3).

    Admitting his acquaintance with the girl, Silvio Berlusconi simply explained that: "it's better to be keen on pretty women than gay" (4). Silvio Berlusconi's homophobia is probably not naive, his strongest supporters being very sensitive to the 'problem' (5).

    In the meantime, polls say that if elections were held with the current electoral law, Silvio Berlusconi - helped by the Northern League - would keep control of the Parliament (6).

    As depicted by Eugenio Scalfari, a thirty-year-old process of mass distraction has strengthened the worst instincts of Italian culture, which have become dominant and suffocating (7). Sadly enough, as outlined by Mario Monti, the political show going on simply distracts people from economic and social issues which will determine the future of young generations (8).

    Unemployment actually affects 26% of Italian young people: if they do not protest, it is just because their families managed so far to help and protect them (9). Besides, according to the President of Confindustria Emma Marcegaglia, Italy is paralyzed (10).

    Silvio Berlusconi is not willing to resign (11), but his fall looks like the slow remake of previous films. Benito Mussolini was a bloody tragedy, Bettino Craxi was a lucrative comedy, Silvio Berlusconi is a night club show.

    Are we in for freedom or a new dictatorship?

    __________

    (1) Stacy Meichtry, "Berlusconi under fire over runaway", online.wsj.com, November 1st 2010.

    (2) Bill Emmott, "After Berlusconi, there'll be no flood of chaos", timesplus.co.uk, November 1st 2010.

    (3) Giuseppe D'Avanzo, "L'abuso di potere/6", repubblica.it, November 3rd 2010.

    (4) "Berlusconi - 'Pretty women better than being gay", corriere.it, November 3rd 2010 (translation by Giles Watson).

    (5) Stefano Folli, "La Lega resta salda, Fini si allontana. E lo stillicidio continua", ilsole24ore.com, November 3rd 2010.

    (6) Emilia Patta, "Sondaggio IPSOS-Il Sole 24Ore: il nuovo centro balza al 21%. Quasi un italiano su due sceglie l'astensione ", ilsole24ore.com, November 3rd 2010.

    (7) Eugenio Scalfari, "Il bunga bunga che segna la fine di un regno", repubblica.it, October 31st 2010.

    (8) Mario Monti, "Quanto tempo abbiamo perso", corriere.it, October 31st 2010.

    (9) Ilvo Diamanti, "L'Italia che si aggrappa alla famiglia", repubblica.it, November 1st 2010.

    (10) Nicoletta Picchio, "Marcegaglia: il paese è paralizzato, governo senza iniziativa, servono riforme", ilsole24ore.com, October 31st 2010.

    (11) Lorenzo Fuccaro, "Frattini: cancellerie preoccupate? Solo dallo stillicidio sulla stabilità?", Corriere della Sera, November 1st 2010.


    Related articles in English

    •  Elisabetta Provoledo, "Fresh scandal circles Berlusconi",  International Herald Tribune, November 2nd 2010.
    • Guy Dinmore, "Berlusconi seeks to laugh off latest crisis", ft.com, November 3rd 2010.


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