Posts Tagged ‘Silvio Berlusconi’

Weekend reading: abuse of state power special

August 25, 2013

It has been a bumper week for abuse of state power. Here are some of the highlights:

Bradley Manning goes down for 35 years. On the watch of the ‘liberal’ president, Barack Obama. The FT (sub needed) argues that Manning got off lightly and may get parole in 10 years. The Guardian takes a different view on the proportionality of Manning’s sentence, a position closer to mine.

While the reaction pieces are being penned, Manning expresses a desire for hormone treatment to assist in a desired gender reassignment. Federal prisons offer this, military ones do not. Manning has asked that she [sic] be referred to henceforth as Chelsea, with the former name Bradley reserved only for letters to the the confinement facility at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. There are worse ways to spend half an hour than writing him/her a letter of support, so why not do so?.

From, for me, the damaged but well-meaning Manning to the thoughtful, lucid and brave Edward Snowden. In the UK, Alan Rusbridger, Guardian editor, reveals threats from the British government, securocrats, and indirectly from David Cameron himself, to pre-emptively shut down further reporting of the Snowden cache using British legal powers of pre-emption.

It is depressing to read how the poodles in the UK government told their bosses in Washington that Guardian journalist Glen Greenwald’s partner David  Miranda would be detained at Heathrow, how Met police say they checked they were using anti-terrorism legislation correctly and how the police reckon they were procedurally perfect. Having taken the call from the lickspittle Brits, Washington then moved to distance itself from the Miranda detention and the seizure of his possessions, saying it wouldn’t happen in the US. As the Economist points out (sub needed), the anti-terrorism legislation under which Miranda was detained was established for the police to ascertain if a person “is or has been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism”. To use such legislation against journalists is grotesque.

Over to China, where 70 policemen take the unusual risk of appending their thumbprints to a denunciation of the acting president of the Shanghai High Court who, they say, has been engaged in massive long-term corruption including stealing several tons of alcohol from the police booze budget each year. Court president Cui Yadong was already feeling the heat after senior Shanghai judges were recently captured on video cavorting with prostitutes. The video of the judges has had over 4 million hits.

Separately in China, the New York Times discusses ‘Document number 9’ and the alleged ‘seven subversive currents’ at large in the Chinese nation. Per my recent blog about Xi Jinping, we are starting to get more visibility on the new Chinese president and what we are seeing is not pretty. Xi’s evolving proto-Maoist approach to politics provides the background to the trial on corruption and abuse of power charges of fellow princeling Bo Xilai, which started this week. Bo was the person who invented the ‘New Red’ school of modified Maoist populism when he was running Chongqing. As Xi and pals move to crush him, the irony and hypocrisy are not lost on John Garnaut in Foreign Policy.

Here in Italy, meanwhile, we are enjoying a peculiarly Italian twist on the abuse of state power. Silvio Berlusconi, having been definitively condemned for a felony for the first time, has opted for an attack on state power that recalls, for me, Italy’s fascist past (much more so than the claims, which I previously dismissed on this site, that Beppe Grillo is proto fascist). Over the Ferragosto holiday Sil promised a programme of direct action on Italy’s beaches, with his supporters leafleting holiday makers who would otherwise be trying to catch a rest. The focus of Sil’s campaign is not so much a proposal for structural reform of the judiciary, or indeed enforcement of existing norms (which would be half the job done already), but instead a direct attack on magistrates and judges as a species. The strategy has more than a whiff of hoped-for intimidation.

Here is a lead story (in Italian) from Berlusconi’s Il Giornale during the holiday. Although the article was on the front page, it has no news content, and comprises a simple frontal assault on the judiciary, likening its perceived efforts to ‘attain political power’ over the nation to Mao Zedong’s Long March. The connection with Maoism/communism is established in the first sentence. Italy, we learn, does not have a mundanely inefficient legal system to be improved by systemic change, but an extremist, personal, visceral political conspiracy against the Italian people (to wit, Sil and his businesses).

Here are some current icons from Berlusconi’s PDL/FI site:

banner-forzasilvio pdl-logo 20ANNI-DI-CACCIA-UOMO 995980_621688441198598_1936708951_n 998453_620420304658745_378895156_n 998913_622166501150792_278588033_n 1097945_620420421325400_707118344_n slide-1-638

The manner in which Berlusconi’s personal interests, those of the Mediaset group he controls, and national politics are conflated is bewildering for anyone from the First World. But of course this is not the First World. Next month Sil will relaunch Forza Italia (FT, sub needed), his original political movement named for a football chant (in the country that now boasts the worst record of football violence and racism in western Europe). ‘Ancora in campo’ / Back on the Field is the new tag line.

To me the strategy looks more than a little fascistic, involving as it does an attack on the institutions of the state and promises of more direct action. However, as the holidays wind down I suspect that we won’t see a proto-fascist movement take hold in Italy. Instead we will see business as usual.  The main evidence of Sil’s promised campaign of direct action so far (the plan on the beaches described here in the FT, sub needed) is a few Forza Italia militants in Rome (here telling journalists they have not been paid to march, that they are ‘spontaneous volunteers’ and that they have ‘just come for Him [Sil]’) and a pisspoor little plane dragging a bit of superannuated toilet paper above a few holidaymakers. ‘Forza Italia, Forza Sil’, I think it says.

I don’t want to do you down Sil, but I’m not sure you’ve really got the fascist cojones for this thing….

Forza Italia sul ferragosto 2013

Meanwhile, my own experience with abuse of state power occurs when I stop at Sasso, the bar on the river on the way to Citta di Castelllo. Despite the fact that there were few people around when I stopped, and lots of safe parking available, a carabinieri police car was parked across the zebra crossing that leads to the children’s playground, with two wheels outside the white parking line and hence well into the road. Thinking this a bit slack, even by Italian police standards, I took a photo on my phone. Walking into the bar, I found two carabinieri eating cream buns. I bought a small bottle of cold water and went outside to drink it in the sun.

While I was doing this, it seems one of regular clients at the bar told the carabinieri I had taken a photo. One of the carabinieri came over and demanded ‘a document’. Of course, I said, handing him my EU photo driving licence. He took it away and wrote down all the details, resting on the boot of his car. Then he came back and said: ‘I have taken down all your details because you took a photo.’ I replied: ‘Yes I did take a photo because of the way you parked.’ The policeman responded: ‘You have no idea what business we are engaged on here.’ I resisted the urge to reply: ‘It looked like you were engaged in eating cream buns.’ Both policemen were standing over me, not completely in my face, but close enough to make me feel uncomfortable.

The officers then made a series of threats:

1. ‘We have your details. If that photo is published on the Internet [he only seemed concerned about the Internet] we know who you are.’ I replied that I have no problem with them knowing who I am.

2. [from the second carabinieri, thinner and younger]: ‘That is a MILITARY vehicle. Do you understand?’ I replied that I am fully aware that the carabinieri is a para-military force.

3. The first officer mentioned seizing my phone (the verb he employed was ‘sequestrare’). I remained impassive, just looked him in the eye. There were a few people around the bar (maybe 8), plus the female boss, whom I have known for years. He didn’t take the phone in the end, just saying: ‘Get rid of that photo or I will seize your phone.’ I said nothing.

2013-08-16 11.56.41

At this point the policemen appeared to run out of threats. They went back to their car, got in it, turned around, and followed me to Citta di Castello, before turning off in the direction of the police station. Should I complain to the justice system or should I launch a proto-fascist programme of direct action? Thankfully this dilemma no longer presents itself. I now live in Cambridge. I think I’ll just go home.

More:

If you would like to harass people on street corners until Silvio is let off his felony, you should be able to sign up at the site below. (Latest talk is of a general amnesty for convicted felons facing up to as much as four years’ jail time. This would be a triple triumph — saving money spent on prisons, reducing Italy’s huge trial waiting lists, and getting Sil off his fraud sentence (plus other sentences that may soon follow). The only downside would be to put a few thousand crooks, some of them violent, back on the streets. What is not to like?)

ForzaSilvio.it

Weekend reading: Italy and Spain and more

April 28, 2013

Italy gets a government that surely cannot last, led by a ‘left-wing’ politician whose uncle is the chief of staff to Silvio Berlusconi. Front up  a younger guy and put more women in the cabinet so the Germans think we’ve grown up, seems to be the plan. FT (sub needed) has a sensible leader about how political reform may be the only way to unlock the door to economic reform.

Meanwhile, in The Guardian Simon Hattenstone writes about his long correspondence with Amanda Knox, who faces a retrial for failing to be guilty of murder when everybody in Perugia knows she’s a witch.

In Spain, Almodovar has a new movie out about his country’s economic crisis. It sounds dark, funny and uplifting — whereas Italy has become shallow, unfunny and boring.

I quite like Krugman’s habit of leavening his blog with some decent music. And he has this very funny take-down of the Reinhart-Rogoff controversy over the relationship between debt and GDP from Colbert (you may need a VPN set to the US to view this). The theme of picking your data points to fit the hypothesis you already decided on is entirely consistent with what How Asia Works describes happening in World Bank reports about east Asian development in the 80s and 90s. Harvard, eh? Martin Wolf (sub needed) has a nice reminder of British industrial revolution history when debt was twice GDP. The best thing in How Asia Works on the non-linear relationship between debt and GDP growth is the financial history of South Korea, set out in Part 3. South Korea was more indebted than any Latin American state in the 1970s and 1980s but, unlike them, didn’t go bust because of what the debt was spent on.

If you are in London, this is superb. And very much on the theme of development.

Need more mirth?

Have a look at the curious tale of the Management Today review of How Asia Works…

When Britain was like Italy

April 21, 2013

A day in London allows for a few minutes talking about How Asia Works on CNBC here, and a longer discussion on the UK’s Monocle Radio ‘Globalist’ programme, (beginning at the 16 minute mark).

In between I decide to spend a couple of hours wandering the corridors of the Royal Courts of Justice, as the large building that contains the High Court of Justice and the Court of Appeal on The Strand is confusingly called. The place is of interest to anyone who wants to understand the need to constantly reform institutions. In particular, Italians should visit this building. It was constructed in the late 19th century to stop the British justice system being what Italy’s is today.

Law Royal Courts panorama

Before anyone enters, the essential book to read is Charles Dickens’ Bleak House, probably his greatest, which centres on a legal case that has multiplied and gone on for so long that no one can really remember exactly what the case is about, or quite why it started. People just attend hearings because the case(s) has(ve) taken on life(ves) of its(their) own. All that is clearly remembered is that the whole, huge, expensive, draining, painful affair concerns the Jarndyce family, which is enshrined in the case name, Jarndyce v Jarndyce. The different sides of the Jarndyce family just do what the lawyers tell them, and the case does not end until it has consumed all the family’s money, and caused the death of a sympathetic character, because the system makes it possible for cases never to end.

Things were so bad in the British legal system by the 1860s — students of development should note that this had not stopped the British economy growing and becoming the world’s most powerful — that there was eventually a cross-party consensus that radical reform was necessary. A royal commission (essentially an independent review) was set up to consolidate a morass of different legal institutions under one roof, streamline procedures and simplify judicial processes so that the system worked. The Royal Courts of Justice, which opened with their 18 (now 88) courts in 1882, shunted Britain on from the world of Bleak House. Opening the court, Queen Victoria’s speech stated the aim was to ‘conduce to the more speedy and efficient administration of justice’.

Almost always, you can just wander in to a court here and sit down and listen to what is going on. I spent half an hour observing the goings on in each of two randomly selected courtrooms. In Italy, I haven’t seen courtrooms beyond the provincial level (except on television). But some very loose points of comparison can be offered. Here in London there is no chatting during court proceedings, no playing around with mobile phones, no lawyers saying hello to their friends and colleagues in court while ignoring their clients, no male lawyers dedicating their working day to trying to flirt with any woman in sight. And everything is taped. When I once asked to tape record proceedings in an Italian court the judge grudgingly acceded, but with a look that suggested I was proposing a coup d’etat.

Unlike Italian courts, the Royal Courts give a sense of being places where stuff gets done. This is not to say that there isn’t plenty wrong with the justice system in the UK. However, compared with Italy, this is the modern world. The Royal Courts are a living museum of institutional development that is well worth a visit. For the kids, there is a room displaying all the silly outfits that judges and lawyers have worn over the years — and thankfully wear less of these days. The grown-up exhibit is the institutional progress captured in quite a beautiful building with its varied, interesting and business-like courtrooms.

Could Italy have the same thing in the foreseeable future? One way to consider this is to remember that the leaders who made the British reforms of the 1870s possible were Gladstone and Disraeli, working in concert. Would you consider that any of the putative ‘reformers’ of contemporary Italian politics — Monti,Berlusconi, Bersani, or Grillo — is in their league?

More

Imagine this in Italy: Edwin Wilkins Field, one of the key reformers and the Secretary to the royal commission of 1865 on the Royal Courts of Justice, declined remuneration!

Evolution continues: didn’t have time to go see it, but the latest addition to the Royal Courts is the Rolls Building, opened in 2011.

Italy grotesque

April 18, 2013

Franco Marini

Silvio Berlusconi

Bersani old

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s papers report that an 80 year-old former Christian Democrat is to be chosen as Italy’s new president.

It is like the declining days of the Soviet empire, starring gerontocrats whose names no one could even bother to remember any longer.

Berlusconi, it is said, wants Franco Marini because, in part, he thinks he will shield him from prosecution.

Bersani, we can only presume, wants Franco Marini because he is even less capable of looking beyond the old Italian politics than Berlusconi is.

What this really shows is that Grillo was correct with his Dead Man Talking rejection of any alliance with Bersani. On the other hand, Grillo’s own suggestion for president is another 80 year-old, Stefano Rodota, and like Marini, another lawyer. (Note that every president of the Philippines from Manuel Quezon to Cory Aquino — 10 in a row — was a lawyer. The Philippines is the east Asian country that has gone backwards fastest in the past 50 years. Can the Italians beat that record? I wouldn’t bet against them.)

The upshot of all this must be that Italy returns to the polls in July. Bersani will go. The left will come up with a new leader, most likely Matteo Renzi, and then we will see if he has any policies.

The Unspeakable Truth, however, is that only Thatcherite shock that breaks up an ocean of vested interests can work for Italy at this point. But who dare say this, let alone do what is necessary? My guess is no one, which pushes me to the conclusion that the likelihood of Italy leaving the Euro is now 50:50. Italy can leave, devalue, and squeeze a few more years out of its existing economic model. Growing up is a choice, not a compulsion.

More

Corriere della Sera (in Italian) reports that Marini did not get a quorum of votes in the first round, but there will be another vote today. Word is that Bersani’s party is splintering as the votes go forward.

FT (sub needed) on Marini.

AFP backgrounder on Marini. Heartwarming tales of childhood poverty, though apparently he ‘kills with a silencer’.

Wikepedia’s entry on Marini.

Grillo rails against Marini in one of his piazza screaming events.

STOP PRESS: Later on the 18th

It looks like Bersani’s PD is imploding as Marini fails again in the second vote. Corriere della Sera reports the latest here in Italian. PD will ask that further votes on the presidency are postponed and meet internally on Friday. At this point, Bersani isn’t just dead, he’s entered full rigor mortis. Will he have the cojones to refuse to resign this week? I reckon that in the ugliest traditions of Italian politics that will be the case. Never, ever, ever put your country before yourself… (Isn’t that a quote from Silvio?)

Guy Dinmore in Rome has filed an excellent, long article about the state of Italy for the FT (sub needed).

REPRINT PRESS FROM MAY 2006:

A brilliant Italian solution. Unable to agree on a new president, the politicians re-elect the previous one — spritely 87 year-old Giorgio Napolitano. The first rule of Italian politics is observed: if in any doubt whatsoever, do nothing. Having failed to broker a deal to form a government in his first presidency, Napolitano now has seven more years to create one. Moreover, if he gets a third term in 2020, he’ll be 101 when he retires. Really super.

The dog has it

February 25, 2013

As polls closed in Disneyland today, it looked like the big winner was Goofy. And why not? Given the choice between Mickey Mouse, Mini Mouse and Donald Duck, I might well have voted for Goofy myself.

The result puts Disneyland right back at the centre of global entertainment. All that stuff about a post-global crisis return to normality was so much hot air. It is time to tune in for the next episode of the Disney story — the biggest, most unbelievable, most enduring cartoon of them all.

Ital election goofy

Ital election grillo red beret

Ital election Grillo votes buffon

That is sooo not all folks!

See where Goofy’s votes came from:

This graphic from Corriere della Sera is useful. It shows the fall in the popular vote for, in turn, Berlusconi’s mob, Berlusconi’s pro-fascist Northern League allies, Bersani’s mob, and the rump of the Christian Democrats (UDC).  All the ‘traditional’ parties haemorrhaged votes. In terms of what people who turned away from the traditional parties did, around half of Beppe Grillo’s vote came from the centre left Democratic Party. To me, that says Bersani has to go. But of course he won’t go, because Italian politicians of the left don’t understand principle any more than ones from the right.

Elections in Disneyland

February 18, 2013

Only a week now and the kids are asking: ‘Who’s gonna win, daddy?’ How do I know, when the people running are larger than life itself.

 

Mickey Mouse. The original cartoon character. He’ll make you laugh. He’ll make you cry. And if you are under 20, he may well offer you cash for a quick one. Mickey has posted a late surge in the polls as many Italians conclude that no one will ever be funnier.

Ital election Mickey face

Ital election berlusconi face

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mini Mouse. Billed as a new kind of mouse, Mini turned out to be much like Mickey — all talk, talk, talk — but not nearly as funny. Mini speaks English, but who cares except the foreigners who pay Disneyland’s bills? May have to move to Brussels.

Ital election mini

Ital election monti

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goofy. Definitely funny. Appears daily in the piazza encouraging citizens to shout ‘Fuck Off’ at no one in particular. Indubitably a new kind of political animal. However a lack of facial grooming and tendency to piss on public monuments leaves the average Italian concerned he undermines the national image for form over substance in all things.

Ital election goofy

Ital election grillo red beret

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Donald Duck. What’s the problem with Disneyland? If only everyone listened to Donald, Disneyland would run fine. Donald is a well-meaning, somewhat gruff old time favourite, yet somehow never quite as funny as Mickey.

Ital election donald duck

Ital election bersani

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Projected outcome: Coalition of family favourites. Loads of laughs for everyone except Italians.

Ital election that's all folks

La mamma severa

September 3, 2012

Queuing on the south side of the San Gottardo tunnel in Switzerland surrounded by Dutch and German cars, I wonder whether my fellow travellers have been convinced by their summer sojourns in Italy that their southern neighbour is changing. Myself, I cannot see it. Italy is miserable from the cuts that have been going on for years. But structurally the story is the same. In this respect, Mario Monti appears to be a continuation of Silvio Berlusconi, minus the bunga bunga.

What has Monti done? A labour law that no one in Italy believes is more liberal than the old one. Nothing to simplify legislation, the tax regime, or the bureaucracy. And absolutely nothing to create a functioning, more efficient judicial system. Just budget cuts. In sum: Berlusconi 2.0.

I am sitting in a German petrol station pondering this when I realise I have to get out of my car to fill it up with LPG. Unlike in Italy, there is no law in Germany that mandates that only a petrol station employee can fill a car up with gas. I glance wistfully over my shoulder, recognising that feudalism has its upside.

Mr Market, meanwhile, is feeling quite sanguine, having convinced himself that Frau Merkel is readying her cheque-book to bail Italy out. Or at least being ready to let Flexible Mario at the ECB write the cheque. The ECB is to announce the latest terms of its support for so-called ‘peripheral’ countries later this week.

Mr Market, methinks, underestimates Frau Merkel. Italians have been asking for 20 years for a northern European mamma who will put the kibosh on their bad habits, and I suspect they are to be rudely surprised by getting what they wished for. One way or another, with the failure of Monti, a bunch of Germans and IMF folk are going to end up moving to Rome to oversee the structural reforms that Italy requires. Either that, or it’s out of the Euro.

Related posts:

Why Super Mario is made of paper. As his 2012 budget foretold. My own cunning plan to solve the Italian debt crisis. How the buck stops in Paris.  The global picture of what we are dealing with. Why you should never listen to the Brits about Europe.

The gentle breeze of British hypocrisy

November 12, 2011

The Economist has published its sixth, and presumably final, cover story on Silvio Berlusconi. The headline – ‘That’s all folks’ – is supposed to evoke the cartoon quality of his premiership. But coupled with a backdrop of Sil set in a painting of end-of-Empire Roman lassitude, it is too busy. Far more visually effective was the June 2011 cover with a simple photo of Sil and the line ‘The man who screwed an entire country’.

I haven’t been the biggest fan of The Economist’s coverage of Italy because it has focused so overwhelmingly on Sil — rather than on a the malaise of an entire professional class which he symbolises. What sets Italy apart is that, relative to its level of economic development, it has the most backward, self-serving professional class and professional institutions of any state in the world. This includes, but is far from limited to, its political and legal and fiscal institutions.

There is also a very English undercurrent of hypocrisy in the manner in which the British elite discusses the Italian crisis with a told-you-so attitude. The Economist is particularly guilty of this, putting the boot in to the German response to the crisis on a weekly basis.

What is forgotten is how the Germans are left to do the political heavy lifting in Europe almost single-handedly. They have a French ‘assistant’, but he is barely worthy of the name.

If Britain had joined the Euro, things would have been different. There would be two big political grown-ups in the Euro-zone instead of one, and that would have made the job of dealing with Italy so much easier.

You cannot argue with Britain’s decision to stay out of the Euro from a selfish, pragmatic perspective, but anyone who supported that decision should limit themselves when yelling from the sidelines about what to do now. How would you like to be Merkel, put in a team with Sarko, and expected to sort out Greece and Italy?

If Britons are honest, they must concede that post-war Germany has done the bulk of the work in creating a stable, prosperous and progressive Europe while the British — famed as people of action — stood around bitching. And when Britain realised it desperately needed to be inside the Common Market in the early 1970s, it needed German support — against French opposition — to get in.

Germany, not Britain, is the moral leader of Europe in the past half century.

Seven

November 9, 2011

Time for Giuliano Mignini to investigate. The yield on Italian debt has hit seven percent. Which is the same as the number of deadly sins committed by the Italian prime minister. Every week, which in turn has seven days. And today is only just more than seven days after Halloween, the diabolical festival when Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox, give or take a day, hatched their Satanic ritual murder plot. In Perugia. Whose name has seven letters.

It is soooooooo obvious that everything in the whole world is a conspiracy. How can anyone be expected to take action when confronted by forces beyond our control?

Frankly, they can’t. Which is why Italy’s professional class is doing nothing as the country goes down the tubes.

Let Rome burn!

The images will at least form a good backdrop for a Dolce and Gabbana advertising campaign. Sicilian peasant chic — combining glamour, stoicism and passion — is surely the perfect day-wear for the modern cataclysmic financial crisis. Not to mention a great metaphor for a society living on bullshit.

Prime Minister Nero putting in a bunga-bunga order last night.

Worth a read:

Nouriel Roubini reposts what he said about Italy at Davos in 2006. Roubini’s analysis led to a bizarre racial outburst from finance minister Giulio Tremonti, the former professor of ethics who was recently busted renting a Rome apartment for cash.

Oh mamma, can this really be the end? (Nth reprise)

November 8, 2011

Only in Italy do markets bounce, the currency strengthen, and gold weaken when the leader of political ‘right’ says he will step down (in order, as the traditional Italian formulation has it, to spend more time with his bunga-bunga girls).

Of course Sil hasn’t said when he will go.

As if to remind us that whatever the Greeks can do badly, the Italians can do at least as badly, this limp political comedy will continue.

Meanwhile, the IMF has been invited to Rome, which will give staffers a pre-change-of-government chance to reflect on what actually needs doing to keep Italy in the Euro. Most economists quoted in the press focus on the need to deflate. But this is impractical — Italians couldn’t take the deflation any more than Greeks could. No society can watch its real incomes shrink by a quarter or a third in order to make economists’ graphs look the way they ought to.

The only real way forward for Italy is very serious structural reforms which unlock fairly quick productivity gains and hence growth.

There is no theoretical reason why this cannot happen.

However, the job that will confront the IMF if it is called in to run a programme — which I continue to believe it will be — would exceed anything it has undertaken before.

Not only the labour market and outsize public sector need to be overhauled, but the entire justice system has to be reworked.

Can a foreign agency do such things outside the settlement terms of a catastrophic war? I suspect not. Which leaves two choices. Either give Italy German money and accept the country will not change and will remain a fiscal burden on the centre. Or kick Italy out of the Euro and refocus the group on a more northerly European caucus of states that can actually deliver political, social and fiscal integration.

In the end, it is all politics.


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