January 23, 2008

Italian Government (probably) on the brink of collapse

“Poor Romano Prodi,” wrote the Financial Times on Sunday, “the year began badly for Italy’s slightly dishevelled but quietly effective prime minister.” I have got to confess that after reading the article I realized that I had lost something—something very important—during the last eighteen months, that is since April 2006, when Prodi returned to power by stitching together—as pointed out in the article—“an improbable patchwork coalition of nine squabbling parties, including communists, greens, and Catholics” (to whom I would add fiercely anticlerical ultra-secularists, moderate conservatives, free traders and libertarians).

As a matter of fact, I wonder how was it possible that I (as well as Bank of Italy’s Governor Mario Draghi!) had not before noticed—even though I do live in Italy!—our Prime Minister’s “quiet effectivess?” As it was not enough, how was it possible that I had not before noticed how heroically our “fiercely-competent” Minister of Finance, Mr Padoa-Schioppa, has been facing during those months “with the legacy of the fiscally-irresponsible Berlusconi government,” and the admirable way he “has begun to regain control of public finances?”

It would be a pity, therefore, to see him go so early, hit by two adverse events, of whom the first widely unexpected, both from the southern region of Campania:

a vesuvian eruption in the ongoing crisis of Neapolitan refuse collection, and the resignation of Clemente Mastella, Justice Minister, after he and his wife were hit by corruption allegations concerning appointments at a state hospital near Naples.

Obviously neither the Neapolitan people, except their centre-left Mayor, Mrs. Rosa Russo Jervolino, nor the rest of Italy think Mr Prodi bears any responsibility on the waste disposal crisis—even though the 17,000-strong Confturismo association of Veneto region must not have a particular veneration for Mr Prodi, but this is probably due to a disgraceful form of parochialism and economic egoism.
As for the rest of the article—by Martin Rhodes, a professor of comparative political economy at the University of Denver—, a very severe one, but unfortunately no more than what is necessary, I don’t think I have anything to say. Despite Mr Prodi and Mr Padoa-Schioppa, “Italy remains the least well-governed country in Europe.” How could I argue with that?


  1. Hi Rob,

    It's certainly odd how Prodi and some of his merry men appear to be quite well respected outside of Italy, but it does seem to be true.

    Obviously some of what Prodi & Co have been doing is appreciated at an international level. However, for the Italian on the street, the 'changes' are not really noticeable and therefore not really considered worthwhile, even if some of them are.

    Prodi is no fool, but he seems to be ignoring the people who voted him in, in so far as he does not really want or perhaps is not able to communicate at a popular level. Alas, his attitude comes across as being rather arrogant, in that his silence appears to imply that anyone who thinks he is incapable of doing his job is a fool, or, perhaps, Prodi knows best. The trouble is, even if he does know what he is doing, his 'high and mighty' attitude does him no favours with the Italian people, who see, as usual, the same old pomposity which he may have got away with in the past, but now is simply viewed as the usual hot air.

    Maybe Prodi's backroom politics will benefit Italy, but then again, having him removed may finally enable others to present themselves. This is what Italy really needs IMHO, as I have said before - new faces, lots of them.

    Sorry to have gone on at such length!

    And remember, where there's life, there is hope! Italy is full of life, so there is plenty of hope!

    New, viable, political players should find that there is no better time to enter the field. I do hope this happens.

    Kind regards,


  2. “New, viable, political players” …

    And I hope this happens!

    As I wrote in a comment on your blog, thanks for caring so much about this strange Country, Alex. Ciao.