berlusconiEvents 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.

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7 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar
    Albert Saxén

    now, wth are govts of natl unity?
    isn’t that how a govt is formed (‘t least shld be)in a democracy?

  2. avatar
    Albert Saxén

    the Italians? spending? you kidding me?
    but, natl unity cld be like in Iran or Finland how it was during the war .. it usually takes an outside ..factor

  3. avatar
    Patrick Leneghan

    Again no discussion as to what ideology or economic system to adopt and worse, the propaganda that there is only one set of economic rules available.

    This is fiercely disputed around the globe, the ‘occupy’ movement being one example.

    As many citizens have correctly identified, it is this current financial system (aka ideology) that is the cause of all of these problems.

    What do the so called experts suggest, indeed demand as the solution? Surrender to the current financial system, cut public spending, on public education, health, housing, pensions etc and guarantee this financial system remains viable for as long as possible, it cannot stand on its own merits without draconian downgrades of individual standards of living and indeed liberty itself.

    There can be NO doubt that this current economic system is pure fascist! Under any interpretation.

    So the questions are, WHY are the EU and National power-brokers forcibly attempting to steer Europe and National governments into captivity of this fascist financial system? Who are these power-brokers working for?

    There can only be one civilized solution for Europe, this talk about should countries stay in the Eurozone or not is the wrong question. It should be…should Europe move out of this globalist financial fascist system, therefore creating a European set of economic rules and if other ‘blocs’ are unhappy with that…tough.

    I would say that this is a major window of opportunity for Europe to define itself, at the moment, the evidence suggests that it is failing and then, maybe not? Could it be possible that the master plan was always to enslave the peoples of Europe into a globalized fascist economy from the beginning.

    There is a definite undertone of creating a formal dictatorship here, as opposed to the current informal one. (only one economic system allowed)

    To reiterate, the current problems are the inevitable consequences of embracing the current dominant ideology/economic rules/financial system. Nothing can be done to prolong the situation unless ordinary citizens are impoverized, disfranchised and just as inevitable, face a global war crisis.

    In my humble opinion of course.

  4. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    Of course we are at war…A financial one…But whom are we fighting against? Who are those “rating agencies” and how do they make their decisions?

    I say now it is time not just for national unity, but for European unity..They know where to hit, Europe’s weak points and economies and they manipulate the Markets and the Banks to destabilize the Continent..It is of course always the people who pay the price. Our politicians just follow the orders of those behind the curtains..They all make huge profits out of the misery of the tax payers!

    We need a political reboot in Europe..We need to stop thinking on a national level and start voting for people in the EP that will work for the whole Continent, united and with people’s best interests at hand..Is that a Utopia? Is that too much to ask?

    Could we establish new, pan-European political parties to replace the old national ones? Only then we will be able to get rid off old practices and corrupt dealings on national level.. Shake up the stalemate on our national political scene..Our national Governments and Parliaments will still act on a national level, but the EP will have them all under its umbrella….Many before me have said that now we need more Europe..And I think it is obvious!

  5. avatar
    Leonardo Baggiani

    I think the Italian politician is diverting the discussion. Politicians are simply playing a power game and the economic reforms asked for by the UE are simply a façade to collect consent.
    It is not a problem of one single man – Berlusconi – being able or not to do something, it is a problem of general political will to do something. The Prime Minister presents the law and the Parliament decides: you can blame Berlusconi for not presenting the law, but in the case under scrutiny the problem is that when the law is presented many politicians from both the majority and the minority do not want to approve those measures! The minority wants to fell Berlusconi and take power, the majority politicians do not want to discontent their constituencies by voting such unpopular though necessary measures.

    A national unity Government is simply a way of commit every politician to a certain course of action for the consequent vast discontent to be equally spread without any poll-advantage to this or that party; this way the majority politicians could avoid to pile up discontent alone and the minority politicians could avoid to vote against the European measures they would be forced to face if winner of the following political elections. “Giving” a unity Government to a “third” person like Mario Monti (or C.A. Ciampi, Umberto Veronesi, Margerita Hack, Mickey Mouse…) is just a matter of communication to voters of the kind “it is not our fault, we are forced to!”. It is therefore clear that all this has nothing to do with the singularity of the Premier but is just a matter of political calculation.
    Berlusconi has got no intentions to leave the chair – he has got his own problems and knows his political life is going to end forever – so he is fighting against a solution comfortable for every one else; taking the Government to the voting of the European measures is a way to force politician to either vote Yae or reveal themselves as opponents to EU measures, which would “kill” them for a new “technical” Government to implement the European agenda. It is again a power game.

    The Berlusconi Government (The Gov, not the Premier alone) should have fallen well before this urgent situation because of the lack of will to do anything serious (the currently discussed measures are in line with the Berlusconi programme in mid ’90!); pretending to make rid of just the Premier only now that the urgency is to approve measure (someone show me how can minority parties approve measures consistent with the old programme of their own eneny!) and THEN let politicians do their business about chairs, is a demonstration of the poor quality of the Italian political environment and its being hostage of their constituencies.
    In our representative democratic system, Parliament is the mirror of the whole nation. People availing this power game in disguise is a further demonstration that the man on the street decides by gut but has got no ideas of how it works – and this is the first problem to fix for democracy to run properly.

  6. avatar
    Kornelia Kaluza

    With UK and France and Germany past immigration laws it is too late to say we want unity! European wants to stay Europeans without paying for third countries affairs. Let UK, France and Germany do deal with its problems without involving well prospering economies, to whom they have turned their heads against in the past. Bear the burden of consequences without involving people who really work for the Europe.

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