Is Italy ungovernable?

The best party in Europe would be if the Italians would make the food, the English would entertain the guests with stand-up comedians and other hilarious Monty Python- related things, and the Germans would take care of the order supervising it all. The reverse would be that the English would make the food, the Germans would entertain the guests, and the Italians would take care of the order. 🙂 This would then be the worst party ever …

It’s an old European joke about Italy, Germany, and England, and in many cases it might be just perfectly true (plus it is always fun to exaggerate :)). Let’s focus on Italy, where Silvio Berlusconi won a decisive victory in both chambers. The fact that the Communists lost their seats should make any person who call himself/herself democratic happy. There you really have a bunch of boys and girls who admire supranational power and believe in the supremacy of the State/collective over the sole individual. In their world, individual demands and dreams are little worth. Of course this may be interpreted as a strong mandate for Berlusconi to launch substantial reforms. Italians want change and a strong government. It is often claimed that Italy is “ungovernable”, and it might as well be true. Look at the hills of garbage in the city of Naples.

Let’s just face it – Naples’s trash is a challenge politicians are flunking. It’s awful! The problems around Naples, a city long defined by both its loveliness and squalor, are complicated, raising worries about tourism, ongoing inequity in poor southern Italy and the local mafia, the camorra. But put simply, the bottom line seems the failure of politics. In a situation like this it is natural for people to ask for a strong leadership – and if they choose to be govern by this Berlusconi, then they probably know what they are doing. The rest of Europe may complain as much as they like but it is up to the Italians to choose their leader, not the left-wing in the EU. Naturally, I’m also very skeptic towards Benito Berlusconi. His history of corruption and his designs of policies to benefit himself are bad enough. It is a good example of that politicians should have as little power as possible (Naples is another).
Just as other political commentators I can only state now that Berlusconi has to deliver. Expectations are huge and people want to have results after this mess the communists and the hippies under Prodi created, for instance in Naples, but also all over Italy, with high taxation on the poor hard working families etc. And even though Berlusconi carried out quite many odd decisions and made even odder statements (that are completely unforgivable) during his two last times in office, he now SEEMS TO BE more of a market-oriented and classic liberal. Let us hope it is because the new leadership in Italy craves it. His previous record is mixed, but the pension and labor market reforms he initiated are underestimated.
In politics you have to compromise (sadly). And perhaps it is therefore I dislike politicians – it’s all talk, Berlusconi being no exception …


About tegis

This blog belongs to Carl-Mikael A. Teglund - tegis. Swedish emigrant with a heart for languages, philosophy, history, and politics (classical liberalism in the European tradition). Go ahead and look, read, or listen. I'm sure you will find it interesting.
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4 Responses to Is Italy ungovernable?

  1. Giulia Guidi says:

    Hi there! 🙂

    “he now SEEMS TO BE more of a market-oriented and classic liberal”

    Mhh… Perhaps now he seems to be ALLOWED TO BE to be more of a market-oriented classic liberal (hopefully, at least!)

    I am strongly convinced that he has always been that way, but he was constantly hindered from carrying out such a programme (or any programme, for that matter) by his former coalition partners, which actually ties in with our old discussions about small coalition partners and their conflictual relationship with the majority party, shared core values and programmes, coalition unity and blackmailing, etc.

    Berlusconi’s (and my, incidentally) former party, Forza Italia, was part of a very heterogeneous coalition, whereas now something resembling a unified liberal-conservative party has been created (hopefully it will last.)

    Unfortunately this new party still includes a lot of people from Alleanza Nazionale, which often opposed the introduction of even the mildest free-market policies, but at least this is ONE political movement, instead of a constellation of small, intransigent, selfish small parties. Individual members of the old coalition parties were given the choice to jump on the new, unified righ-of-centre bandwagon or to run as independents.

    I sincerely hope that this move towards a healthy political “bipolarization” will be a small step towards making Italy more governable! Still, “It’s a long way to Tipperary / It’s a long way to go” as the famous tune goes. 😉

    PS: Somewhere you wrote that you are fond of our “Radicali italiani,” but this time they chose to run together with the socialist block. I am curious to know what you think about that! 🙂 I mean, in your opinion should a libertarian find it preferable (and/or wiser) to run together with a bunch or crazy conservatives (like me – hehe) or with a bunch of crazy socialists? 😉 Tough question, I know!

    Best regards,


  2. Giulia Guidi says:

    PS: My niece recently tested for her driver’s licence. The examiner told her, “Turn right after the trash [dumpster] down there,” and she replied, “If we were in Naples, that would mean ‘keep driving drive straight on!'” 😉

    You know, we are a bit frustrated because they have been sending their excess trash to our local incinerator in Modena for years!!!

  3. Giulia Guidi says:

    ppS: I would just like to specify that what I wrote should NOT be taken as a comparison with the Swedish situation, were all member parties within the Aliiance are basically in favour of free-market policies and would never openly sabotage the coalition to the point of blocking its every programme and initiative. It Italy, on the other hand, this had become the norm.

  4. tegis says:

    Hmm…wow, that’s a tricky one! Or not – I choose none. =)

    In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit.


    The socialists want to oppress the individual because they see classes, the society and the “people” (whatever that is?) as things being more important than the individual.

    The conservatives want to oppress the individual because they see religion, the family or the Nation as things being more important than the individual.

    You obviously catch my drift here. 🙂 The results would be the same, leaving the funny conclusion that when it comes to fascists, feminists, conservatives, nazis, socialists etc. etc. they are really close to each other in many ways. They believe in something bigger than man – thus minimizing the possibilities for a free world if you try to work together with ANY of them.

    BUT of course, on a lot of questions I can pinpoint out things that you and I and probably I and a left-wing as well can agree on. You and I would probably go along quite well when it comes to our belief in a market economy, that we have the right to have as little interference from the State as possible in our own businesses and the value of personal responsibility etc. but I would guess I agree more on some left-wing people when it comes to immigration policies, family policies, abortion, gay rights, and nationalism etc.

    Ergo: No, I wouldn’t like to work together with anyone who supports slavery – no matter what their excuses are for why they support slavery.

    But I guess that is why I shouldn’t be a politician either … 🙂

    ps. sorry for the late answer :S.ds.

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