The wheel of Fortune. What an apply named programme to talk about the latest twist in Italian politics.
Sorry readers but yes I am sitting on a beach in Penang Malaysia enjoying some evening sunshine at 6 p.m. The temperature has dropped to a pleasant 29C and a light wind is blowing. But I just had to post something about the palace coup.
In 1994 Silvio Berlusconi ( Il Cavaliere) was elected for his first term as Prime Minister and in the same year one of his TV stations aired an episode of La Ruota Della Fortuna. On it was a young 19 year old handsome Italian with a fine head of hair called ………… Matteo Renzi. I know you couldn’t make this up could you. He won that night 48 million lira or about £20,000 .
Today or at the latest Tuesday he will be asked to form a government and be Italy’s Prime Minister. He has never held a seat in Parliament and has been for his career at the local level of politics so is ideally suited to head the government ! Mind you after Monti and Letta I guess it would be hard for him to be worse.
And what of Il Cavaliere ? Well yes he was tossed out of Parliament for tax fraud and is at the moment on trial for paying off a senator to cross over the floor but he will be once again a major player . Without him and his party it is unlikely that Matteo will be able to push through the electoral and labour reforms that are needed. So two major players who don’t have a seat in Parliament ( Renzi is still just Mayor of Florence) but heck why not this is Italian politics isn’t it ?
Then, of course, there is Grillo and his 5 star party who won 29% of the vote in the last election . He will also be a key player in this . But wait he also has no seat in Parliament having decided not to take one when the last proper elections were over. So all key three players and not a single seat amongst them . I said you couldn’t make it up didn’t I ?
But let’s add to that the fact that Matteo Renzi will be the third Premier that has been appointed by the very ancient President rather than the electorate and you have Italian politics in a nutshell. Il Cavaliere was the last elected Premier way back in 2008 . So for 4 years the President’s men have ruled and to what affect . The debt has gone up not down. Taxation has gone up not down, and there have been no reforms. The Supreme Court threw the last of Monti’s reforms out last year.
I guess we can say that the Establishment are no good at picking winners. Look at British politics. MacMillan picked Sir Alec Douglas Home in 1963 and the actual electorate kicked him out a year later, Wilson picked Sunny Jim Callaghan in 1976 and the electorate kicked him out in 1979 and Blair picked Gordon Brown in 2009 and out he went in 2010. Actually looking at that UK list I think my point is well proved especially the last one !!
Renzi used to say that he would not make a challenge for the crown until 2015 when Letta’s term was up . But hey he is Mayor of Florence and wasn’t there a guy some many years before from there called Machiavelli.
Now he says he will serve out his whole term until 2018 before holding an election. So the Italian people will have to wait till then . 8 years therefore of non elected government. Not bad for a democracy . Even Mussolini lead an elected government for 3 years before becoming Il Duce.
So Italian politics continues to be better viewing than any of the soaps on Berlusconi’s TV channels or anyone else’s for that matter. It certainly is never boring unlike the soaps
Well the bar is open and a plate of chicken satay is calling to go with the ice cold beer. It’s probably much earlier where you are but why not join me . Just remember it is five o’clock somewhere.