Italy calls EU’s democracy bluff


Most analysis of the political puzzle in Italy come stuffed with meaningless clichés. Even among columnists known by their ability to offer valuable insights, the puerility of chastising Italians for voting a professional comedian–a clown–has become a common place. Apparently, they should have supported politicians who could take the country out of its current mess: but I wonder, where are those politicians?

In an increasing number of eurozone countries, citizens begin to feel a certain apprehension at the sight of a ballot box: where are the politicians that can keep their promises, that can bring positive changes? Where are those safe hands?

Italians have lost patience, and have taught Mario Monti a lesson. Mr Monti played the role of the serious, responsible administrator, but Italians thought otherwise. How did he aspire to win the general election after having acted as European Commissioner of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and after having presided over an ever more wrecked economy and higher unemployment? Berlin pushed for Berlusconi to be put aside not out of democratic concerns but because the Knight was disobedient. Now, many voices disagree with the results of the Italians democratic elections. Yet, what would those right result be?

In Italy, as in other southern eurozone countries, citizens cannot believe there will be light at the end of the austerity tunnel. Almost five years have gone without green shoots, indeed. And we are told more pain is in the pipeline.

Some of the mistakes made today remind of the errors of the 1930s. Back then, the terrible conditions created an environment in which dictators could thrive and wars be triggered. At the heart of the disaster there was the gold standard, as the euro is nowadays. The euro and those who govern the common currency area have refused to use the obvious tool, that is, a bank able to apply monetary expansion policies to aid the weakest economies. The European Central Bank appears to listen only to the strongest.

Our politicians have shown their knowledge of economics is insufficient. Unfortunately, History is not their best subject, either.

State governments are powerless and follow Brussels’ orders, that is the truth. And some of those governments, adding insult to injury, are occupied by women and men who are corrupted and wouldn’t let go of the little power they cowardly enjoy. Even those governments led by honest politicians cannot make decisions to kick-start their own economies.

The outcome of the Italian elections is relevant, not because all the contagion blah-blah-blah and peripheral scary tales, but because it is one more proof for Merkel that her command of the crisis is a failure, and the euro edifice needs democratic refurbishing. As it is now, the euro project is mass grave.

About the Author

Miguel Navascués
Miguel Navascués has worked as an economist at the Bank of Spain for 30 years, and focuses on international and monetary economics. He blogs in Spanish at: http://

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