Events in the Eurozone crisis continue to move along at a blistering pace. Greek political parties are in the process of negotiating a government of national unity, which some believe is the only way to restore calm to the markets. Last week, when the prospect of either early elections or a Greek referendum seemed likely, an EU official was quoted by the Wall Street Journal as having said:
If Greece were going to war tomorrow, they would establish national unity. Well, we are at war. The crisis is that bad. And it’s time that Greece put party politics aside and demonstrate national unity.
As Greece attempts to do just that, however, all eyes turn now to Rome. Is Italy also now “at war”? Will the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi be able to push through reforms and bring public spending under control? Or will his government fall and trigger early elections, resulting in even more uncertainty about Italy’s ability to manage her debts?
Debating Europe had a comment come in recently from Natascha Adama on Twitter:
We took Natascha’s question to Sandro Gozi, European affairs spokesman for the opposition Democratic Party in Italy:
When? As soon as possible. Of course, we have to fill a gap. There is a clear gap between what is being decided at the European level and the lack of a real European political space… It is clear that this is not sustainable any more. I think that those that push to satisfy the demands of the citizens – to push for real European democracy and real European politics – have to positively use this crisis to build up the democratic mechanisms at the European level. That means a greater emphasis on European political parties and directly electing the President of the European Commission. It is clear that the current situation, where the real decisions are taken behind the scenes at the European level, is not socially acceptable any more.
Has the crisis become so serious, though, that it’s time for national political parties to put their differences aside and work together? Is it time for a government of national unity in Italy to push through reforms?
Berlusconi is not able to implement the measures that have been decided and agreed upon by this current majority. So it will be necessary to change the government. Which will have to, in the next few weeks – not months, weeks! – save Italy and save monetary union. We have to get out of this political limbo we are in now, where the parliament is unable to agree on anything. Then, set a new date for political elections. It could be the natural end of the parliament. We have to clearly say when we can come back to this. This is not a normal situation.
Are you talking, then, of a government of national unity?
This is an extraordinary situation. The best would be to have a government and a majority which will be elected to carry out a mandate. Unfortunately, this is not the case. We will be swept away unless we act… Berlusconi should be very worried. He will lose the confidence vote [on Tuesday], and a new government should be formed. This new government should have the support of all the political forces and should be composed by people who are credible and able to restore the credibility of Italy, and should have a legitimate mandate to carry out the reforms agreed.
But doesn’t this go back to your first point? Can we continue to take decisions independently of elections through technical governments and governments of national unity? Are we undergoing a crisis of democracy in Europe?
Yes, it is a crisis of democracy in Europe – because we have built up monetary union without a sufficient political dimension. The national leaders and national political parties have always slowed down Europe from building its economic and political dimensions. This gap has been allowed to grow. The time has come to close it.
Finally, is there a place for Prime Minsiter Berlusconi in this new government?
No, it’s impossible to think of a new government with Berlusconi. It’s possible to think of a government with members of his party, but he’s a liability. He’s a big part of the problem, and he should go.
What do YOU think? Has the Eurozone crisis grown so bad that we need to consider governments of national unity? Are we “at war” with the crisis? Or does this threaten democracy in Europe? Let us know your thoughts in the form below, and we’ll take your comments to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.
Sandro Gozi is a Member of the Parliament of Italy and European Affairs spokesman for the centre-left Democratic Party.