Italy Goes to the Polls
Nicholas Farrell, American Renaissance, 4 March 2018
Can it solve “the migrant crisis”?
One sentence in a shining jewel of a novel by the Sicilian aristocrat Giuseppe Tomaso di Lampedusa about Italian reunification has become a proverb that defines modern Italian politics: “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.” During the Fascist era, things really did change, for once, in this impossibly beautiful country, which is so very difficult to govern, but those few words from Il Gattopardo—perhaps the greatest Italian novel ever written—are a good starting point.
The Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, comparing himself to Michelangelo and Italians to marble—the raw material the Renaissance genius used to fashion his sculptures—once complained to German journalist Emil Ludwig: “It’s the raw material that I lack. Governing the Italians is not impossible. It is useless.”
Since the fall of Il Duce in 1945, Italy has had 65 governments, and today the Italians return to the polls to choose the 66th. Incredibly, for non-Italians at least, since the media tycoon and four-time prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was forced to resign in November 2011 at the height of the Eurozone debt crisis and the “Bunga Bunga” sex scandals, Italy has had four Prime Ministers, none of whom was actually elected.
The last time Italians voted in a general election was in 2013. No party got anywhere near a majority of the votes but the post-communist Partito Democratico (PD) won the most seats—barely—and was able cobble together a government led by a compromise candidate.
Then, Matteo Renzi, Mayor of Florence, was voted leader of the PD. With Italy mired in economic recession, the party had at last decided to modernize and get rid of the worst aspects of its communist heritage, as Britain’s Labour Party under Tony Blair had done in the 1990s. Mr. Renzi, whose nickname was “Il rottamatore” (Demolition Man), and who was not even an MP, became prime minister in February 2014. He was going to drag the PD out of the past and the Italian economy out of the crisis.
Nothing much changed, of course. But the global liberal elite loved the Renzi rhetoric about “reform” and “modernization,” and how “fantastico” the EU and the euro are. President Barack Obama invited him to be guest of honor at his last White House state dinner in October 2016, where he praised the “bold” and “progressive” leadership of “one of Europe’s most promising young politicians.”
Two months later, Mr. Renzi lost a referendum on his ill-judged plan to reform the Italian Senate and resigned. His foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni thus became the new unelected Italian prime minister. But Mr. Renzi has not—as he promised he would—gone away. He is still leader of the PD and he—not Mr. Gentiloni—is its candidate for premier.
Italy’s economy remains in bad shape and its migrant crisis—which since 2014 has seen the arrival of more than half a million illegal migrants by sea from Libya—remains unsolved. Nearly all these migrants were picked up from small people-smuggler boats just off the coast of Libya by NGO and EU naval vessels, which then ferried them 300 miles across the Mediterranean to Italy, even though the first safe port is in Tunisia.
Most newcomers—as even the holier-than-thou UN admits—are economic migrants and not refugees, and there are now 630,000 of them in Italy in a state of limbo. Virtually none ever gets deported.
Read the entire article at American Renaissance.