Professor Monti’s 100 days

Published on openDemocracy, by Carlo Ungaro, February 21, 2012.

In this new European era of technocratic majoritarianism, Italian voters are convinced by none of the political parties. They hope their new Prime Minister might fix things. And post-Monti? There are signs of a rallying around the Catholic vote … //  

… The resulting paradox is that Monti is supported by an abnormally large majority formed by the two main, bitterly antagonistic, political parties, neither of which appears willing or able to precipitate his fall. This circumstance represents both the strength and the weakness of the  Government, for while the numerical majority appears solid as never before in Italian democratic history, it is, in reality, very fragile and needs careful handling on the part of  the Prime Minister and his colleagues.

In his cool, detached, self-deprecating manner, Monti appears impervious to all the ongoing, albeit somewhat muted, political uproar in the two houses of Parliament, as, indeed, he has been able to weather some rather severe waves of protest, by continuing steadily along his declared path and, when necessary, asking Parliament for a vote of confidence, which he is practically certain to obtain. One extremely relevant factor – which certainly has not escaped either his or the Political Parties’ notice – is that in spite of the protests and the discomfort brought about by them, and in spite of the severe, painful, economic measures the Government is imposing, all the opinion polls indicate that Monti’s approval rating remains close to 60%.

In the coming days, the Government will probably face new waves of strikes and protests, as it endeavours to update Italy’s antiquated labour laws. But there is a feeling  abroad that this storm also will be weathered with style and that things will continue more or less along the established path.

Monti has stated that he has no political ambitions for the future: his protestations are credible also because he seems ill-suited to the rough-and-tumble  atmosphere of the Italian electoral process. He does, however have a realistic chance of succeeding Giorgio Napolitano as President of the Republic, his only rival being, at this time, Silvio Berlusconi.

But what about the future of Italian politics in a post-Monti era?

Confusion and paradox are endemic qualities in Italy’s political life, and the present situation is no exception. None of the parties, except, perhaps those who ‘safely’ oppose Monti (the Northern League and some maverick but increasingly influential left wing parties) are looking forward to the inevitable electoral challenge set for spring of next year. It is absolutely impossible to foresee the outcome of these elections, but it seems safe to assume that they will bring about  some fundamental changes in Italy’s political spectrum.

Strangely enough, the party which will probably benefit the most will be one of the minority ‘Centrist’ parties, the U.D.C., led by devout Roman Catholic Ferdinando Casini, who, with his darkly handsome looks is a well recognised figure on Italian TV screens. This party has been, until now, the most stalwart of Monti’s supporters, and appears to be moving with growing confidence towards a leading position in Italy’s political centre. It is important to note that most of the defectors from Berlusconi’s party have been drifting towards the Catholic centre, and this will give renewed vigour to the ‘Catholic’ vote, which, in Italy, is traditionally a force to be reckoned with. (full text).


Is this the Second Great Depression? on rwer, February 20, 2012;

Revisiting the Second Great Depression and other Fairy Tales, on rwer, February 18, 2012.

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