Italy may be starting to unravel and with it the European experiment.
The grand first century history of Rome as the dominant power and leading cultural, political and religious centre of western civilisation, masks the sad reality of today. The 150 years since unification in 1861 have been especially hard on it.
Today, like so many European states, Italy is a story of industrialisation and wealth in the North and intransigent and growing rural poverty in the South. Today Rome, Naples and the South is a mess, unemployment is high, and this is home to the left wing anarchic Five Star Movement. In the north Milan and Genoa provide the base for the populist right wing League Party. The two have made bizarre coalition bedfellows for the past twelve months in an effort to build their own power bases and to shock the E.U. into funding Italy’s terrible debt.
Little has been achieved except more chaos, uncertainty and bad feeling. More than 8% of Italians now live in abject poverty, the nation’s debt is 136% of its GDP.
The League Party is led by Matteo Salvini, whose populist platform includes warming relations with Putin and Russia and building walls to resist each and every immigrant. Salvini, the hero of “Italy for the Italians” has now broken ranks with Five Stars and called an election.
Europe’s fourth largest economy is about to go through more competetive posturing – just when Brexit is looming.
Salvini will win – he can already count on 40% of the vote. Italy is losing its way. Still that most beautiful of countries it is unravelling – another scalp for Putin’s disruption and for the withering zenophobia of nationalism.
Have a good day, James