Italy is always good political theater. I remember years ago when I cared more about poetry than politics, a friend of mine saying, “Tom, seriously, you’re missing out, Italian parliament is better than cable.” And in the early days of reality TV he was probably right.
That grand tradition of Italian government being closer to performance art rather than public policy continues today. I’m being somewhat facetious, certainly, since this game is deadly serious. Italy is a lynch pin to the grand dreams of The Davos Crowd for global social and economic dominance, so what happens there politically is vitally important to the world.
And given that the annual convocation of those would-be world rulers is happening right now in Davos, it is only fitting that changes are occurring in Italy’s ever fluid political landscape.
Since the collapse of the populist government in August when Lega’s Matteo Salvini tried to force a new election that he would win in a walk, the situation in Rome has been tense, to say the least.
Five Star’s leader Luigi Di Maio betrayed Salvini to stay in power by cutting a deal with the globalist Democrats (PD). But Di Maio betrayed far more than just his erstwhile coalition partner. Because Five Star’s main reason for being was to oppose the further submission of Rome to Brussels and the European Union.
He betrayed what was nominally the traditional left in Italy that PD had taken for granted in their calculated shift international over the past few decades.
In the same way the Democrats in the U.S. and Labour in the U.K. took the trade unionist vote for granted, thinking they would never jump to the ‘conservatives,’ PD left those folks behind in their pursuit of further EU integration.
Speaking for those folks and others was Five Star’s appeal. It was the reason it polled as high as 35% going into the March 2018 election. It’s why President Sergio Mattarella dissolved parliament early that year to forestall an even bigger rise in the polls of both populist parties, Five Star and Lega.
When Di Maio betrayed Salvini to cut a deal with PD last year I said it wouldn’t last. That Five Star’s polling numbers would continue to slide, Lega’s would firm and the coalition would slowly be taken over by the globalist forces within Italy’s political establishment, now that they had regained control.
Today we’re staring at:
Moreover, I said:
Di Maio is now in the same position that another reformer turned toady was in after he betrayed his country in 2015, Greece’s Alexis Tsipras.
To remind everyone, Tsipras is now out of a job and one of the most hated people in Greece. So complete was his sell out of the Greek people, he ushered back into power a center-right government in July.
Today Di Maio is no longer head of Five Star. The party is in turmoil. He’s staying on as Foreign Minister because he’s sold out his country and his party. His job is complete and when Salvini returns to power without him Five Star will sink into irrelevance.
It is flirting with the dreaded 16% Chasm which, once breached is a sign the public has moved on.
This dimming of Five Star has had its price. It’s lost nearly 20 MP’s over the course of its time in government. The last three defections, to Salvini’s opposition group, occurred in mid-December.
Now the coalition is holding onto a slim 5 seat majority. The opposition is getting restless. And it is this weekend’s vote in the birthplace of Italian Communism, Emilia Romagna, that is pushing the current government to the brink of crisis.
With Di Maio openly accusing Salvini of bribing senators to leave Five Star, the drama is reaching levels of mendacity and self-delusion rarely seen outside of Washington D.C.
In October, Salvini’s center-right coalition got the win in Umbria, another former stronghold of the left. Five Star has zero presence in Emilia Romagna now, polling around 5%.
If Salvini can pull off the win there it would say quite clearly that Italy is occupied territory and the pressure will mount on Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to dissolve the government.
But Conte, previously caught on a hot mic promising German Chancellor Angela Merkel he’ll deliver Italy to Brussels, will cling to power for as long as he can.
The polling in Emilia Romagna says it’s a dead heat between the two campaigning groups. The question comes down to the same things that turned the Brexit vote Leave’s way and the 2016 election Trump’s.
Will the middle class working people in Italy continue to vent their rage and frustration on tone-deaf elites or will they let old prejudices rule them.?
If December’s British elections were any indication of the level of discontent in Europe, I wouldn’t want to be in Conte’s shoes in a couple of months.
Because the only things holding the Italian bond markets together at this point since the country and its banks are functional bankrupt are the fragile coalition in Rome and the ECB’s commitment to destroying risk assessment within the euro-zone.
This is why Italy’s political theater is no longer a side show but the main attraction for the implosion of Europe.
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