Monday, September 24, 2012

Too little too late? Or the Bastille?

The chief executive of the Latium regional government, Renata Polverini (left), resigned earlier this evening; a resignation without honour. After a week of increasingly embarrassing revelations about her party’s parties (and much else); after seeing her nominal party boss, Angelino Alfano and her real leader, Silvio Berlusconi who both told her to hold her ground; after going to see Prime Minister Monti (today) and President Napolitano (today) who apparently gave her little or no moral support; she finally decided that the time had come to resign. She went out with all guns blazing, threatening revelations about her (centre-left) predecessor and just about everyone else. All guilty except her.

This could be the key moment for the Berlusconi era, the so-called Second Republic; the moment when the trends of the last 20 years stop and change direction and Italy reinvents itself again. Or it could be just another little glitch in the inexorable political, economic and moral decline of the whole country.

It takes time to understand which are the watershed moments – 14 July 1789 only became the founding moment much later and whether today is really a Bastille point will depend on the people of Latium and the rest of Italy plus prime minister Monti, president Napolitano and Brussels.

My own guess is that the tumbrils will not roll tomorrow and that some of the more unpresentable characters like er Batman and Polverini herself will try and recreate themselves in time for the elections which will take place early next year. She is already preparing the part of the injured innocent victim and we can be sure that Franco Fiorito, er Batman, now being investigated for embezzling €1m (it was €800,000 two days ago) will also play the victim.

But the knock-on effect will be devastating. Formigoni and Lombardy are wobbling and probably will be the next to go; the Campania governments are being investigated and promise another juicy scandal. But all the regions are under the microscope, both public and judicial. Regional government in Italy will have show that it does more than sponge off the taxpayer. The centre-right is under serious pressure but the centre-left is far from innocent which leaves Monti and his policies almost alone on the field. This means not just a change of parties and leaders but a change in the way Italy is governed.

Still, this is not the resolutive moment that Italy needs but it will be the beginning of a process which does actually change Italian politics.

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