As many will know, the word ‘stable’ was not often used to describe Italy’s chaotic political system. However, the emergence of what is to all intents and purposes a two party system stands to save Italy a fortune.
Since the second world war, Italy has had something like 60 governments. In simple terms, that is one government per year. Such an astonishingly turbulent situation has certainly contributed towards the economic and social downward spiral Italy is now facing. Yet Silvo Berlusconi has, and is, saving Italy money.
Phenomenal Costs of Annual Elections
The sheer cost of organising yearly national elections must have been enormous, and Italy certainly cannot boast about having any kind of reputation for efficiency, meaning that election costs in the period 1945 to 2005 will have been exaggerated.
There are hidden consequences of such levels of instability though. Aside from the expense involved in setting up national elections annually, there is the loss of productivity resulting from everyone trying to get to polling stations to vote, and that is not to mention the cost of all the extra personell who take time off from day jobs to earn a few pennies to help out with organisational aspects of elections.
Italy’s Politicians Don’t Work
Another more insidious aspect which, it could be argued, has led to many of Italy’s problems today, is the fact that Italy’s politicians, the most well paid in Europe, never really do any work. Not a surprise. These honourable persons spent a large proportion of their publicly funded time arguing, infighting, and, of course, campaigning annually.
Introducing reforms, revising legislation and generally administrating a country takes time, and problems, like trash in Naples, tend to accumulate. Italy’s politicians, when they do actually act, work inefficiently. Legislation is poorly drafted, and repeals are rare.
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Stop translating in your head and start speaking Italian for real with the only audio course that prompt you to speak.
Extinguishing old legislation via repeals is a good way of resolving old problems, or it could be. However, in Italy new legislation is tacked onto old, and, in the Italian way, problems become exacerbated as a result of excessive complexity. It takes time to understand new legislation and to manage its effects. In Italy though, this time does not exist, or at least it did not before Silvio. Indeed, time which could have been productive was merely dedicated to bringing down governments, setting up elections and campaigning. A sorry situation, which has led to many of Italy’s problems today.
Italians Rule the Roost
Yet despite all this instability, Italy remains one of the economic powerhouses of the developed world. Why is this so? Most probably because the non-politicians, the Italians themselves, are expert at finding ways around antiquated, complex and inefficient legislation. Tax evasion is rampant here, but it has to be, without it, Italy would be in truly dire straits. Yes, Italy is run by its people, and hampered by its politicians.
Enter Berlusconi – a true Italian
Along comes the jovial tanned salesman, Silvia Berluconi, who really only entered politics to protect his own back from Italy’s odd political system. It is hard to blame him for this and was almost a necessity, in that it really was the only avenue open to him.
Despite Berlusconi’s dubious motives and curious background, the man has, and is, saving Italy boatloads of money. During the last government he captained, simply managing to hold it in place for five years led to huge savings on election costs, and probably increased the productivity of the country’s politicians who were forced to do some work for the first time in 60 odd years. Although it appears as though many have forgotten how to do what they are handsomely paid for.
As we all know, Berlusco is back, and protecting his back, and his government appears to be stable, even if cracks are appearing as a result of Silvio disagreeing with the proposals of his political allies.
Still, you have to hand it to the man. He is saving Italy a fortune. As to where all these savings are ending up, well, that is another question which is just about impossible to answer, unless you feel like risking your life and asking awkward questions that is.