Italy needs a stable government

May 14, 2018 Europe , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , POLITICS

Reuters photo



Tom Arms



Sergio Mattarella has been a lawyer, held two cabinet posts and was a judge in Italy’s constitutional court. He would appear to be uniquely qualified as Italian president to help negotiate the formation of a new coalition government.


He is. But the task is, at least for the moment, beyond him.


The March elections ended in a stalemate. The left-wing anti-establishment Five Star Movement won the most votes but not enough for a majority in the Italian parliament. The right wing League also did well. But they both need the support of either the centrist Democratic Party or the Forza Italia for the majority needed to create a government.


All four parties have been talking non-stop over the past two months with President Mattarella shuttling between them. But no combination of the four has managed to coalesce around an agreed set of policies.


President Mattarella’s proposed solution to the deadlock is a nine-month breathing space during which the country will be run by a caretaker government of experts. It is not a novel suggestion. There was such a caretaker government from 2016 to 2018.


Both the Five Star Movement and The League oppose this. They want fresh elections in July. They believe that the political momentum is with their extreme left and right wing views and that one of them will emerge the overall winner in a fresh set of polling.


Italy is, of course, notorious for the rapid rise and fall of its coalition governments. Since 1945 there have been more than 60 governments and over 40 changes in prime minister.


But the country needs political direction more than ever. The refugee crisis has shifted from the Aegean to Italian shores. In the last year 70 percent of 170,000 refugees who entered the EU came through Italy.


The economy is making tentative steps towards recovery. Its GDP growth rate is now 1.8 percent per annum which puts it neck and neck with Greece and .02 points ahead of Brexit Britain which has the lowest growth rate of the G20 countries.


Both the Five Star Movement and The League have similar solutions to these problems. They both want to stop immigration and toy with the idea of deportations.


They are also both Euro-sceptics, although they have shied away from leaving the EU. The spiritual head of the Five Star Movement, Beppe Grillo, has, however, called for a referendum on withdrawing Italy from the Euro. The rest of the party leadership has remained silent on the subject.


Italy is the fourth largest economy in the European Union. When Britain leaves it will be the third. Britain’s vital political role in the EU was to act as a counter weight to the Franco-German axis. If it looked like one or the other country was getting too big for its political boots, London would re-balance the scales by throwing its weight behind the underdog. If that successful balancing act is to continue after Brexit then Britain’s role will need to be filled by Italy. For it to be successfully filled, Italy needs a stable government.





Tom Arms

I am a journalist, entrepreneur and historian with extensive experience in print, web and broadcast journalism. I started as a diplomatic correspondent, wrote several books (The Falklands Crisis, World Elections On File and the Encyclopedia of the Cold War), and then in 1987 started my own business (Future Events News Service, which over 25 years established itself as the world and UK media’s diary. Our strapline was: “We set the world’s news agenda.” I sold FENS in December 2012 but retained the exclusive broadcast rights to all of FENS data. To exploit these rights I set up LookAhead TV which produces unique programmes which “Broadcasts Tomorrow Today” so that viewers can “Plan to Participate.” LookAhead has appeared regularly on Vox Africa, Radio Tatras International, The Conversation and Voice of Africa Radio.

In addition to being a syndicated broadcaster and columnist on global affairs, Tom is also available for speaking engagements and can be contacted on TwitterLinkedin and email[email protected].

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