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Reforming Italy

Recently, this very week in actual fact, Gianfranco Fini, the leader of the Italian house of parliament, had a major spat with Italy’s controversial prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi.  One of Fini’s beefs is that the Berlusconi government is not really taking the subject of reform seriously, despite trumpeting the word “reform” at every available opportunity.

Fini, in a general protest at the way Berlusconi is handling Italy, has formed a splinter group which, for the moment, is to remain within Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party.  Fini currently happens to be number two in the Berlusconi led People of Freedom party.

This fracture within the Berlusconi gang is in itself interesting, and indicates that Berlusconi’s modus operandi is not appreciated by, of all people, some of the members of Berlusconi’s own political party.

Italy’s opposition parties should really be calling for a vote of no-confidence in the Berlusconi government, but, either they could not care less, they have not thought of this, or they are far too busy infighting themselves to bother doing anything which a normal opposition might do.

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Italy is a conundrum.  Nothing happens in the way people might expect, and those who should care about the downward spiral, don’t.

Some people do care, and one, Luca Cordera di Montezemolo, the, now former Fiat group chairman, does not mince his words over what is a desperate situation, especially for Italy’s virtually forgotten younger generations.  In Montezemolo’s eyes, Italy’s politicans treat reform like a “bar of soap”, of all things.

It is Montezemolo’s opinion that the subject of, who has denied wishing to enter politics in Italy, treat the subject of reform as if it were a nothing more than a consumer good to be sold to Italy’s population.  Like Fini, Montezemolo appears to think that Italy’s current government is not taking the subject of reform seriously.

As an Italy-watcher, I would agree.  One of the big problem with Italy’s so-called basket of reforms, is that they do not really reform anything in a particularly constructive manner.  These “reforms” are either thinly disguised cost cutting measures or manoeuvres designed to reduce Berlusconi’s legal woes.  Fini knows this, Montezemolo obviosly thinks the same, and the continued calls from the president of Italy’s employers federation, Confindustria, Emma Marcegaglia would indicate that she feels the same too.

Meanwhile, Berlusconi and his chums continue to bandy around the term “reform” as if it were the catch word for some soap bar marketing campaign.  What the soap bar reforms will do is, at best, to keep Italy as it is, and, at worst, perpetuate the problems of corruption, and mutual back-scratching.  In common with Montezemolo, not that I am comparable in any way to this great Italian business leader, I really do think that Italy has enormous potential.  However, unless some real change, reform, happens, Italy is destined to become the European equivalent of Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.  What a grim, and sad, thought.

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