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Berlusconism is (possibly) over
Sottotitolo:It is possible that after the recent huge reverses, Berlusconi's dismal anomaly will be cancelled. However, any future government will be confronted with the ineffective management by Brussels of the European economic crisis.
During two weeks Silvio Berlusconi has suffered two consecutive defeats. The first in the local elections . He lost the elections in Milan, the northern capital . after two decades of center-right government; in Naples, the capital of the south, as well as in other major cities like Turin, Trieste and Bologna.
Media commentators believe that these consecutive reverses prelude to political defeat of the center-right coalition in the general election by 2013 or, most likely, in the spring of 2012, given the growing troubles of the Berlusconi’s coalition.
If these predictions will come true, they will cancel an anomaly in Europe. A government that is not only a center-right one (so is now the majority of European countries), but also led by a premier that is a serious threat to democratic institutions. It is not a coincidence that he repeatedly tried to change the Constitution, attacking the balancing role of the Presidency of the Republic and of the Constitutional Court.
As far as the economy is concerned, the Berlusconi’s government in almost two legislatures has taken Italy through a lost decade. The economy stagnated, and neo-liberal reforms of labor market have made Italy the country with the highest rate of youth unemployment. Faced with the threat of Sergio Marchionne ,the Fiat-Chrysler MD, to close the historic Mirafiori plant in Turin by transferring abroad the remaining car production , he sided with Marchionne in his challenge to FIOM, the militant metalworkers’ Trade Union.
At the beginning of the current legislature he totally eliminated the tax on house ownership, regardless of asset value, as a pure gift -worth three billion euro- to richer householders. A populist and foolish choice for a highly indebted country, unable to finance crucial investments for employment, education and research.
The left-wing government which will possibly follow Berlusconi’s departure – or any other coalition - will therefore find a critical condition, marked by economic stagnation and high unemployment in the framework of a third major public debt in the world. A dismal situation, aggravated by the requirement by European Union to balance the budget by 2014, that is a cut of public spending by 40 billion euro (about $ 55 billion).
And this while the country has a growth rate of around one per cent and has already cut spending for schools and research and stopped any public investment. So, once freed by indecent Berlusconi's government, Italy’s new (hopefully left-wing) should have to cope with the irrational policy of the Frankfurt-Brussels axis.
The outgoing governor of Bank of Italy, Mario Draghi, candidate for the presidency of the European Central Bank, recently said that the need to reduce gradually the high public debt – while the current deficit is 4 percent of the GDP, among the lowest of European Union. But he also added that the country cannot exit from the crisis without a revival of investment. But we know that is going to result in an impossible task under the senseless European Commission deflationist policy.
The reasonable solution, discussed several times over the last decade, would be a different implementation of the Maastricht Treaty that sets up the deficit up to three per cent of GDP. Given the present European environment of stagnation and high unemployment, the capital spending aimed at strengthening the growth of the member states should be excluded from the calculation of three percent deficit.
In this way, the debt reduction would be assisted by the higher growth of GDP. And such a measure would have a dynamic and cumulative effect throughout the whole European Union. This change would also be either rational or useful to prevent the possible breakdown in the Eurozone, hit by the current ineffective management of sovereign debt crises in peripheral countries.
If, as many Italians hope , Italy will make better the political landscape in Europe, by firing Berlusconi and his government, then one could also hope for changing the European Union’s policy that menaces to maintain the eurozone in permanent stagnation, heading it towards a new lost decade. While Italy is trying to got rid Europe of Berlusconi, one would also hope that Europe would deal with the economic crisis with a less irrational and harmful economic policy.
Editor of Insight and President of CISS - Center for International Social Studies (Roma). He was National Secretary of CGIL; Member of ILO Governing Body, Member of the OECD's Trade Union Advisory Council and Advisor of Labor Minister for European Affairs.(email@example.com)- http://antoniolettieriinsight.blogspot.it/