Di Raffaele Rosignuolo
Il Financial Times, nell’articolo del 31 agosto (di seguito allegato), parla della crisi italiana. Scrive che gli italiani, al ritorno dalle vacanze estive, si trovano di fronte una maggioranza di governo «impantanata» sulla manovra economica, sulle cui misure prevale ancora il caos. L’articolo “bacchetta”, inoltre, l’informazione diffusa dai telegiornali nazionali, in particolar modo quella della Rai che ieri, 31 agosto, piuttosto che approfondire sulla questione economica italiana – dalla quale dipendono le sorti economiche dell’Unione Europea – ha preferito dare spazio a servizi tipo “un cane che ingoia un diamante, un uomo che trafigge la testa con cesoie da giardino e ristoranti di Parigi che servono cibi precotti” (Tg2 delle 13.00). Di fatto la situazione economica italiana è grave, i cittadini ne devono essere più consapevoli e i politici, in questo momento, devono dare delle risposte più concrete al piano di austerità richiesto dalla Bce.
Crisis exposes weakness of Italian coalition
By Guy Dinmore in Rome
A dog swallows a diamond, a man pierces his head with garden shears and Paris restaurants are caught out serving pre-cooked meals.
Judging from news bulletins on state television, Italians drifting back from their summer breaks could be forgiven for thinking that little has changed since they went away.
Giulio Tremonti, finance minister, was said to be in “damage limitation” mode on Wednesday, seeking to assure Italy’s partners that a budget could still get through parliament’s twin chambers by the end of next week, despite the prime minister’s decision to jettison some key proposals, including a wealth tax.
Three weeks after the centre-right cabinet agreed an austerity package – with €45.5bn ($65.4bn) of savings intended to balance the budget by 2013 – the government on Wednesday missed its self-imposed deadline to present legislation to the senate, the first step towards parliamentary approval.
Insiders admit, however, that the budget could amount to a stopgap measure, the second since July, and might need to be reinforced at a later date.
External pressure is building. “We do not expect the agreed deficit targets to be called into question,” the European Commission said. “We will pay particular attention to the final composition of the package.”
The Bank of Italy has tried to inject a sense of urgency, warning that the 300 basis points spread between Italian and German 10-year bonds is unsustainable in the long term. With Italy’s debt close to €1,900bn, equal to 120 per cent of GDP, the Treasury noted that €130bn would need to be rolled over by the end of the year.
Marco Elser, a banker with Rome’s Advicorp, accuses Italy’s prime minister of putting narrow party interests above those of the nation: “The emperor has no clothes and Berlusconi has woken up to that fact.”
It remains unclear how long the European Central Bank will keep buying Italian bonds on the open market, as long as the government fails to maintain its part of a deal reached in early August to push through the austerity package and measures to boost Italy’s sluggish economy.
Political commentators say Italy’s crisis has exposed the weakness of nearly all its big players: from the 74-year-old prime minister fighting three court cases; to Mr Tremonti whose credibility has been undermined by a corruption investigation into a former close aide; to the divided centre-left opposition Democratic party, and even the trade unions.
The CGIL, the main leftwing union federation, has called for a national strike on Tuesday, but other big unions are keeping on the sidelines.
Il Sole 24 Ore, Italy’s main business daily, commented: “When the reasons of weak politics prevail over the responsibility of necessary choices, then logic is the first to be lost.
“Reforms end up being lost in messy solutions that do not solve problems but just create new ones.”
Mr Berlusconi insists his coalition will see out its mandate until general elections scheduled for early 2013, but a government collapse cannot be ruled out. A budget deal reached on Monday between Mr Berlusconi and Umberto Bossi, leader of the Milan-based Northern League and a key coalition partner, has already fallen apart.
The federalist and eurosceptic Northern League, which performed badly in recent local elections, could decide that the heavy cuts to be imposed on local governments are too much, and that its own survival is more important than rescuing an increasingly unpopular administration.
A government official said: “The markets are asking who is in charge.” A major issue, he said, was Mr Berlusconi’s attempts to appease public opinion – “being loved is more than an obsession” – and his refusal to accept the need for a “blood and tears” budget requiring all-round national sacrifices.
“Time is running in Tremonti’s favour,” remarked another official closely involved in the legislative process. Despite his isolation within the cabinet, Mr Tremonti’s original proposals could yet prevail. If so, this would add to the general sense that the era of Mr Berlusconi, after 17 years leading Italy’s centre-right, is coming to a close.