The Italian Crisis—and Ours

The media and the left (but I repeat myself) are in a tizzy that democracy in America is in imminent risk of being snuffed out, because Trump is at least Mussolini, if not Hitler. This is plainly ridiculous. As has been pointed out, Hitler would have gotten The Wall built and repealed Obamacare. Still, the Washington Post trumpets their self-regarding slogan, “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” while there is a flood of new books on the death of democracy.

Perhaps all the democracy-philes ought to direct their deep concern to Italy, where a coalition government of the left-leaning and right-meaning parties that emerged dominant in the recent election has been turned out of office by Italy’s president because the prime minister wanted to appoint a finance minister who is opposed to Italy remaining in the Euro currency. It has hardly received any attention in the American media. The Spectator reports:

The two Italian populist parties which were on the verge of forming a government that may never now happen won a majority of votes at the 4th March elections. But who has more power? The people who voted for populism – or the elites who have now shot down populism? We shall see.

Pressure from the Germans, the French, the markets, Brussels, etc spoke with what Italians call the tongue of the astuta serpente (the astute snake) against this nascent Italian populist government as – in the words of the FT’s editorial headline on the matter: ‘Rome opens its Gates to the Modern Barbarians’. . .

In his brief television explanation, President Mattarella told Italians that he could not ‘support the proposal of a minister who supports exit from the euro’. Why ever not? I wondered. After all. that is what the voters of Five Star and Lega – i.e nearly half of Italians – voted for isn’t it?

Italy is legendary for the instability of its parliamentary administrations, which have an average tenure in office of something like 15 months. Italy’s convoluted constitution allows the president to reject cabinet appointments from a prime minister, but not much else. So the country remains dysfunctional, and the replacement government the president has suggested is not likely to last very long. (Italy recently rejected a complicated constitutional reform in a referendum.) The prevention of an anti-Euro finance minister hasn’t reassured financial markets: Italian bonds have sold off heavily the last few days.

What is the basic point of democracy, if not to allow the people to control the government. The premise of Progressivism, and the administrative state, is for a permanent governing class to control the people, and prevent the effective control of government by the people. Hence the horror of Britain’s Brexit vote, and Trump’s election here.

The contest going on in Europe right now is just another front in the same contest under way here: to determine whether the revolt of the people against elitist government will succeed.

Even Paul Krugman thinks this is a bad sign:

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