Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Will Italy be next and then France?

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David McWilliams writes in the Irish Independent about the forthcoming Italian referendum on reforming the constitution, under the headline:

Why Italy is the next country to fall to Trumpism


'In terms of the big picture, the Italian election can be seen as yet another domino in a year of falling dominos. First we had Brexit, then Trump, and the next big one for Europe after Italy is the potential rise of Le Pen in France. Italy is the triplet in a quartet that will culminate in France, and, in my opinion, if the Italian elite loses on December 4, Marine Le Pen will win in France.'
The referendum is to approve or not proposed changes to the constitution, but a No vote, widely expected, may be take to be a vote to unseat the Prime Minister. He has threatened (or promised) to resign if the proposed reforms are voted down). This will precipitate a general election in which the Five Star Party will campaign to leave the euro.

That is in the future. The Five Star Party would need an absolute majority in both chambers of Parliament to hold a referendum on leaving the euro, but David McWilliams can imagine it happening.

Could Italy turn its back on the EU? Of course it could. In fact, why wouldn't it? Any country that can change sides in a world war is politically capable of changing its currency, don't you think?

The referendum is to approve or not proposed changes to the constitution, but a No vote, widely expected, may be take to be a vote to unseat the Prime Minister. He has threatened (or promised) to resign if the proposed reforms are voted down). This will precipitate a general election in which the Star Party will campaign to leave the euro.

That is in the future. The Five Star Party would need an absolute majority in both chambers of Parliament to hold a referendum on leaving the euro, but David McWilliams can imagine it happening.


Could Italy turn its back on the EU? Of course it could. In fact, why wouldn't it? Any country that can change sides in a world war is politically capable of changing its currency, don't you think?

I doubt that Marine Le Pen will become president next year, partly because France does not want to leave the EU, which she considers a modern version of Napoleon's empire. But it is not impossible. Brexit and Trump have shown us (the French included) that nothing is.

Donald Trump will find out that the powers of the US President are surprisingly curtailed. Those of the French president, when the government is not of his party, are very much more so. 

But, if she did defy the odds and reach the Élysée Palace, would Marine Le Pen's party then come to power on her coat-tails?

We live in interesting times. I learnt recently that 'may you live in interesting times' is not in fact a Chinese curse. I wonder if President Le Pen would be a curse or not. 

She wants to nationalise some banks, which sounds very alarming, though one remembers that Gordon Brown nationalised RBS and Lloyds. 

France’s three major banks – Banque Nationale de Paris (BNP), Société Générale and Crédit Lyonnais – were taken over by the state after the Second World War, and remained nationalised for half a century. President Francois Mitterrand’s socialist government nationalised the rest of the banking system in the 1980s. Most have now been privatised, Crédit Lyonnais only fully in 1999.

I wonder, especially when I see how even well-informed foreigners misunderstand Brexit, how often anyone ever understand's a foreign country's politics.

5 comments:

  1. If Mussolini signalled tragedy, and Berlusconi farce, how would one characterize the next Italian strongman?

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    1. As you may know, I hope to see the restoration of the Kingdom of the Two Siciies.

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    2. Sounds good to me.

      The Germans may have been better off keeping the Kaiser. It's hard to see how things could have turned out worse!

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  2. I did not. All politics is local. You sly fellow. This heart beats faster for Sicilia. First step is to regain Lampedusa!

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  3. I don't know if the news has caused any ripples outside France, but it sure has in France: Emmanuel Macron, ex-economy minister in one of the governments during Hollande's presidency, has announced that he'll run for President next May. It was a very unpleasant piece of news for both President Hollande and for Mme Le Pen. Macron would be exactly the magnet attracting hope: he comes from the left (so the "bien-pensants", journalists, academics, media, etc cannot dismiss him out-of-hand), he's relatively young, at 39 the electorate has not grown old with him, he's a rebel in his own camp, on the right of the left, he was an investment banker with Rothschild, so he'll appeal to those who want more economic liberalism, less "dirigisme". And he has the advantage of not being really the status-quo, neither socialist, nor the cronies from the right, mired by endless corruption scandals. Until his announcement this niche of not being the system was the exclusive domain of Mme Le Pen.

    He's mostly known for a law that bears his name that included a host of measures to reform the French economy.

    I have nothing against Le Pen's immigration policy but I think her economic policy would a disaster. While I think Brexit was a good choice and I cannot form an opinion on Trump vs. Clinton, I am convinced that President Le Pen would be very bad for France. And the Five Stars Party of Italy is equally composed of dilettantes and opportunists. So I don't think it's a good idea either. I think that Protestant cultures have the advantage that even fringe movements are trustworthy, while in Latin countries the establishment gives a certain guarantee of rigour, while the others are too much of an unknown, too high a risk, all the defects of the establishment considered.

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