Thursday, April 4, 2013

Anyone Want to Govern Italy?

The Italian Republic seems to be up for grabs lately and unlike ages past when whole armies struggled for the right to rule from Rome, today the top job is one that cannot even be given away. “Super Mario” Monti has said that he “can’t wait” to leave office and Italy is in such a shambles that Pier Luigi Bersani said, “Only a mentally ill person could have a burning desire to govern right now,” and most seem to believe him. No one wants the top job. All of this would be downright funny were it not true. We have Bersani, a former member of the Italian Communist Party, trying to work out a coalition deal between the likes of a former comedian and a disgraced media mogul and all presided over by a president who is also a former member of the Communist Party. Is it any wonder that the Italian economy is in freefall? Given the number of high profile “former” communists in the Italian government, one cannot help but recall the prophetic words of the late King Vittorio Emanuele III who said that the Italians were not suited to a republic and that only the communists would benefit from the abolition of the monarchy.

It seems incredible that such a collection of communists, comedians, celebrities and bureaucrats could hold the fate of Italy in their hands when, prior to 1946, the country had a dynasty in place with nearly a thousand years of personal experience in government and the art of statecraft. Few families in the world could boast of such a long history in national leadership as the House of Savoy. Yet, they were turned away and today we witness the result of that terrible mistake. The royals and aristocrats are gone but a new ruling elite holds power and, unlike the old, they do not hold the best interests of the country at heart. Elected political placeholders care nothing for legacy or their place in history but only in enriching themselves at the public expense, at the expense of future generations, taking as much as they can as quickly as they can while they have the chance. Aside from the years of direct American assistance after the war, every decade has seen the Italian republic plagued by corruption, economic incompetence and complete political failure.

That the republic has been an abject failure is beyond dispute. However, worse than that, it has corrupted large portions of the Italian population itself. Today it resembles a sort of vast criminal cartel. Italian politicians are vastly overpaid, they are some of the most well paid politicians in the world and a member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies makes far more money than, for example, a member of the House of Representatives in the United States. Are Italian voters getting good service for their money? Of course not, but they maintain their position by looting a minority of the public in order to bribe the voting majority with various benefits and government handouts. So, in spite of an uninterrupted record of failure, they are voted back into office again and again to continue to enrich themselves so long as they keep the benefits flowing even while it has bankrupted the country completely. They have even thrown open the gates to pass along the wealth and resources of unborn generations to non-Italians and all while doing their best to punish success and reward failure and even criminal behavior.

The results of these decades of republican rule or clear and obvious to see. The only real mystery is why so many remain slavishly devoted to the republican form of government and harbor prejudicial attitudes about the monarchy in spite of this reality. Even the most ardent royalist would have to confess that the governing system under the Kingdom of Italy was completely ideal. There were many shortcomings and yet, it is simply a fact that Italy reached her peak under the monarchy while the republic has brought Italy to ruin. That is not an assertion that can be argued, it is simply a fact. The Kingdom of Italy, in spite of considerable growing pains, became one of the major regional powers of Europe and certainly the most powerful Mediterranean nation. More than that, national pride was such that Italians aspired to greatness whereas the republic has made Italians comfortable with being a third or even fourth rate power, a member state on the secondary tier of the European Union and worst of all the republic has made mediocrity the norm.

This, truly, is the most despicable crime of all; that the pathetic parade of incompetents, criminals and jesters is today taken for granted in the upper echelons of the Italian government. Politics has always been a rough business on the Italian peninsula but under the guidance of the House of Savoy, the people at least expected better of their politicians and had a monarch at the top who invariably pointed the way toward truly national goals aimed at making the counter greater than before. Italy has been great before and it can be great again but many changes will have to be made. The first should be to drop the republican system that has failed the country so miserably.


  1. Gotta love free inadvertent publicity provided by the republicans, glad I could provide you with the link to that quote of "genius"...

  2. I don't know whether it is depressing or hilarious, but in the days leading up to the 1946 referendum republicans were always talking about how the King could potentially opt for a power grab, or that there was always a threat that he would take steps that were contrary to the constitution. This is one of the most common arguments against the monarchy in Italy, even today. Yet, President Napolitano took an essentially revolutionary step in ending all consultations and creating this "Committee of Wise Men" composed of ten people who could apparently find enough common ground among the parties to form a government capable of winning a vote of confidence.

    Ordinarily, I would not be necessarily opposed tout court to such a decision, but it makes one think. How long have socialists and communists railed against monarchy and aristocracy, and now Napolitano essentially institutes his own élite to issue reforms that will be inevitably be tied to EU policies that a huge percentage of Italians, according to election results, voted against. And yet here continue the arguments: "the monarchy is undemocratic." Frankly I'd be more confident in a reigning monarch, whose first interest would be the Italian people, making such a bold move, than a "former" communist President of the Republic whose mandate has expired.

    Get a load also of how Berlusconi was ripped to shreds when he was in power, for having "usurped" power even though he was democratically elected and always held a vote of confidence in Parliament, and yet, Bersani and his communist allies were on the verge of attempting a massive institutional power grab with little more than 29% of the vote.

    And while Italians are lulled into believing the republic is the best thing they've ever had, here we see a Prime Minister making an international embarrassment of himself by first allowing his minister to say that the marines would not return to India, and then, being more interested in the impending helicopter deal, decided to ship them back without so much as a paper "guarantee" that they would not receive the death penalty. Berlusconi, for all the ills people say of him, would not have made such a colossal diplomatic catastrophe and certainly wouldn't have put a helicopter deal ahead of his own two mens' safety.

    And what did the despicable Napolitano say? "It's important to have good relations with our good friend, India." This man, who was supposed to be the egalitarian equivalent of the King, who is supposed to swear to uphold the constitution and to put the people's interests first, does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Umberto II or any member of the House of Savoy would have never accepted such a humiliation, just like he never accepted handing over the colonies, and Istria and Dalmazia without a protest (which is why the Allies were ultimately elated to see him go, because then the peace treaty was accepted with no resistance).

    This republic is not the best Italy can do. The nation really needs at the helm a leader who incarnates the history and pride of the Nation, of a prestigious family who has fought incessantly for the country. That family is only one; the House of Savoy.