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Monday, March 04, 2013

And who are you again? Grillo's MPs and Senators meet each other for the first time

163 MPs and Senators-elect from the Five Star Movement met in Rome yesterday and today. As an initial party meeting after a general election it was quite unusual: despite belonging to the same party, most of the elected representatives had never heard of each other before, let alone met. Beppe Grillo himself did not know many of them, and that's why he joined the meeting today - along with the Five-Star Movement's media guru Gianroberto Casaleggio. Remember, the Five Star Movement selected its candidates through an on-line survey, so no face-to-face contact involved.

This shows just how far away the Five-Star Movement is from being a traditional political party - by any standard. And there's some more stuff:
  • Large part of today's meeting was live-streamed and available to everyone online; 
  • At the meeting, each of the 163 parliamentarians-elect was given the opportunity to introduce him/herself to the others, and explain what his/her background and areas of interest were;
  • The MPs and Senators-elect are all considered 'spokesmen' and 'spokeswomen' of the Five-Star Movement;
  • The 163 today chose their faction leaders in both houses of the Italian parliament by a simple show of hands. The faction leaders will only hold the post for three months, and are to be replaced after that.
Incidentally, the faction leader in the Italian Senate is Vito Crimi, a 40-year old (the minimum legal age to be elected as a Senator in Italy) judicial assistant from the Northern town of Brescia.  The faction leader in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house, is Roberta Lombardi. She is 39, holds a degree in Law and works for an interior furniture company.

Whatever one thinks of the Five-Star Movement, it was quite impressive to see so many Italian MPs in their thirties (or even twenties) in the same room. Finally some fresh air in Italian politics, some might say. We still don't know what the Five-Star Movement will do next. Grillo made a quick appearance at the very beginning of the meeting today, saying that the Movement will only vote for the laws which fit with its manifesto - but he said that several times before.

It remains to be seen how this enthusiastic but inexperienced lot will react when the new Italian parliament convenes - on 15 March, or a bit earlier - and talks on the formation of the next government enter their decisive stage. The time for post-election celebrations may already be over for the Grillini. The question is: will this innovative approach to party politics hold (think party discipline) when things get serious?


FirstAmendment said...

It looks like people can’t see even remotely that the debt crisis coupled with the Euro currency folly is laying bare the deep cracks in a ruinously decaying political order based on representative democracy.
With relentless erosion of ethical standards in society – i.e. lack of accountability – the so-called representatives of the people have gone so far in asserting their elitist privilege of being above the law that they have ditched whatever pretension of shame: “We can do whatever we like in full daylight and nobody is allowed to reprehend us”.
Representative democracy is a system so flawed that in Italy a crook who was due for jail, by the means of his riches and disproportionate sway on the media, could find his way through, up to the top and stay there for almost 20 years, backed by hordes of enthusiast supporters and bunga bunga followers. Isn’t that an outstanding evidence of how representative democracy has become the decadent political system of a decadent society? It happened in Italy, not a third world fledgling democracy where ballots can be easily rigged.
Having won a wide majority at the ballots, Mr. Bunga Bunga, surrounded by a swelling army of sycophants, got a firm grip on power and devoted his best energies and talent to devise ad personam laws to free himself from a litany of charges he had to face in various courts. Privilege became the norm.
“Privilege” comes from Latin “privilegium”, i.e. a special law devised to favor a private person (privus). In principle democracy and privilege is an oxymoron: wasn’t just abolition and prevention of whatever kind of privilege the main foundation of democracy? In Italy representative democracy has failed to such extent that it became the handy tool for openly denying the very foundation upon which democracy is supposed to stand: NO PRIVILEGE.
All other parties from whatever political orientation, entangled on their own in all kinds of murky deals, couldn’t resist participating plus or less overtly to the happy party. The mindset and mechanics at work are astonishingly reminiscent of organized mobsters.
In a decadent society where accountability compass has long been swapped for rampant and pervasive relativism, while borrowed money kept flowing everybody kept dancing and spending. Suddenly the shock came, faucets of lending went dry and, as Rogoff and Reinhard say, endgame began. Day of reckoning is approaching for both overleveraged economies based on frantic pace of consumptions and overleveraged democracies used to buy consensus through unsustainable commitments to spend.
There are two ways of looking at the world, said Bertolt Brecht, either with a full belly or an empty one. It isn’t easy to adapt to an empty belly when such experience is unprecedented. Resentment is now running high, people feel cheated, what they say is: “We trusted you and now we are getting poorer while you have filled your coffers and your cousins’. We want to get rid of you and we’ll not trust anybody anymore. We’ll just do the job ourselves.”
Two critical factors come into play. One, young generations, heavily touched by unemployment feel deprived of the right to have dreams, which is the gist of being young. They have a lot of rage, a lot of energy and almost all of them are web savvy.
Internet is the second critical factor. No need anymore of laborious process for aggregating people behind political platforms the way traditional parties are used to do, endless meetings and talks, package it properly, hand it over to your representative jumbo-man and be faithful, he’ll take good care. No need of a representative in order to aggregate people of similar political leaning and give voice to shared demands and grievances.

Rollo said...

The economits calls the Italian winners 'the clowns'. But who are the real clowns? Van Rompuy? Barroso? Shultz? Whoever is the 4th jumped up President of Europe? The Politburo in its entirety, filled with failed members of the political class?

Anonymous said...

I hope. and even pray that the well intention people of the five star movement find the peace

Rik said...

@The First
1. Italy is a bit of a different case. It always has been functional in its dysfunctionality. In the way that it went forward (but the pace wasnot too high) while the system was hardly functioning in the normal meaning of that word.
They never attacked the real problems (like the South, corruption, always behind the North, never really catching up). They could do so by overleveraging and lack of competition. Those two factors have however changed. Creditworthiness (for the state at least) has been overstretched and half the world has become a competitor on international markets.

2. 60s/70s were the affluent youth basically now it is the youth again at least in Italy but the more 'No Future' kind.
Anyway in Europe in general so called populist voters are often not the youth. Typical southern thing (Greece, Italy, Spain).

In the North it is mainly groups not really ready for the future but with a lot of entitlements (often paid for by themselves, but that money was used to pay for somebody else's) or assets (like an own house, pension) coming under treath.
People that basically want the good old days back and want their position protected. The Dutch show the different groups:
-Wilders, undereducated, mid income around 40, own house.
-Socialist, very low income and welfare bunch;
-50 plus, pensioners or nearly pensioners.
Together in the polls now >40% of the vote as well.
Nothing far right economically simply other nett receivers. Very little freetrade, American Dream like stuff. Simply another part of the entitlement brigade. These are not groups that will solve the low growth issue, they simply are ones that want another division of the cake (and not a bigger cake, at least they do very little for that).

In the South it is the youth mainly (at least as driving force). Anyway especially the Southern youth is hardly competitive. Undereducated (compared to the North) and lacking of practical skills (like anywhere)brought up with entitlements and in the South often lacking languageskills as well.

Re Grillo. He got the trend with him. Rumours about technocrat coups
will only further strengthen his cause. The only things that could weaken his position in a new election are imho:
-MPs making a mess thereof. As long as they stay out of government and with outside pressure seems not a real possibility.
-This vote was for most a warningshot and will be reversed if Grillo to power becomes a real issue. Might be but difficult to judge how important.
-Strong candidate for one of the other parties comes up. Possible with the socialists but not very likley at least. And hardly a proven trackrecord as well, unless in organising Bunga bunga parties, with the present political elite. They hardly look more competent than Grillo's bunch.

Anyway he needs more votes to really keep the ancien regime out and that can only via elections.
It is not like with LePen or Wilders or TrueFinns that make other parties behave differently (more about policies), in Italy it is about a sick system that needs change and you donot do that with the same corrupt people.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps people are unaware of Grillo's real aims:- In an interview with Bild am Sonntag, Five-Star Movement leader Beppe Grillo said:-

“I’m a committed European. I’m in favour of an online referendum on the euro, I want a unified Europe which is modern and speaks a common language.”

In other words, sounds like he's perfectly in-sink with the EU itself.