OP-ED/A rebellious Italy or an undemocratic EU?

OP-ED/A rebellious Italy or an undemocratic EU?

This article has been written for Albanian Free Press newspaper and www.albanianfreepress.al

By Frrok Çupi

With the March 4th elections and with the June 1st government, what we saw happening in Italy was something that had never been witnessed in the history of European democracy:

For the first time we saw the victory of a populist government in Italy, but, on the other hand, the victory of populists in Italy revealed the true face of Europe.

The spreading of populists in Europe was revealed more openly in Italy, the third largest economy in Europe and the heart of the European culture and civilization. This wave of populists has intimidated the old political classes, the demagogic governments which distance themselves with the common people, leftist liberals who want a Europe with open borders and massive migration.

Victory of populists in Europe revealed that Europe is less democratic than it looks like. Europe attacked Italy with the aim of suppressing the vote at the very moment it felt that populists were winning. This goes to prove that there’s very little democracy remaining in the offices of the European Union. The events that took place this week showed the true nature of the EU.

What we haven’t yet seen with the EU:

Of course, the EU could not come out and say: “We, the heads of the EU, are against the free vote”. But, the Italian president did something, which in a way, did something that could be interpreted as such. Sergio Mattarella defied democracy and the will of the majority of Italians. For the first time, democracy in Europe rejected the legitimacy of the vote.

Government elites in Europe do not give up control:

Brexit was the only thing that could not be controlled by the EU elites. European bureaucrats did not expect it to happen. Italian voters headed to the ballot boxes on March 4th and it was clear that the majority of Italians would vote the two anti-establishment and euro sceptic parties: the Five Stars and the League. This was the first time that the EU labelled this as a “mistaken will” of the people. Pressure from the EU was ongoing until the day of the voting. After the voting, pressure mounted even more. The winners of the March 4 polls came from both sides of the political spectrum and a significant amount of time was required to come up with a program and a single governing coalition.

Political elites are experts in controlling in an “invisible” manner

As soon as the process for the creation of the government kicked off, it was clear that things were not going too well. But we did not expect to see what really happened. The Italian head of the state, Matarella, rejected the nomination of a minister. The winning parties chose a “puppet professor” for the post of prime minister, but, the behaviour manifested by the president was damaging. The president was unable to ask why they were choosing a little known figure such as Giuseppe Conte as prime minister, in a country of professional and political values. Instead, the president attacked a prominent economist such as Palo Savona, whom the populists proposed as minister of Finance. But, the president said “no”. Why? Because Savona did not support the EU’s financial project. Through the Italian president, the EU was upholding its own interests and hurting the interests of the member countries.

A “scissor” is better than a true reform, according to the EU

While they were attempting to form a cabinet, both leaders of the winning parties declared that the EU was intentionally interfering in order to prevent the creation of a populist government. Chancellor Merkel was also mentioned to be part of this, but it was mainly the EU. In fact, everyone was concerned about president Mattarella’s act. He went as far as offering a “scissor” for Italy, rather than a government elected by the people’s votes. By “scissors” we mean Carlo Cottarelli, whom the president nominated for the post of PM and in order to defy the democratic vote. Cottarelli, an IMF official, is also known as “Mr. Scissors”, for his active role in cutting funds as part of the austerity measures applied in Greece. Meanwhile, the 81 year old professor, Paola Savona, had never agreed with austerity measures. This had made him a heretic for the EU. Prof. Savona had expressed his disagreement with the entire project of the monetary union. He had also declared that some countries, such as Italy (where unemployment is high), could need other financial mechanisms or would even require to leave the single currency. But, the Italian president could not allow such a “heresy” that affects EU officials, despite the fact that it affects the interests and the will of Italian people.

What is Brussels doing?

Mattarella knew that the game with his “puppet” would fail. He knew that populist parties would not accept him and that fresh elections would be demanded. The EU was hoping populists to obtain fewer votes in the new elections, but they were mistaken with their calculation.

Brussels was an accomplice in this move, which, in fact, was an act of defiance against the will of the Italian people. The EU budget commissioner, Gunther Oettinger issued an extreme statement: “My concern is that in the weeks to come, we will see consequences in the Italian market. The economy will tell the Italian people that they made a mistake by voting the populists”.

But, the EU president, Tusk, addressed a different message to EU member countries: “I would like to ask all the member states to respect the voters. We’re here to protect the voters and not lecture them”.

The EU gave two different kinds of lectures.

 Note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Albanian Free Press’ editorial policy