The Italian election


       The Italians are angry. Being in the Euro means big cuts in public spending to get their budget deficit down and keep it down. It means cuts in pay and spending power  across the board, as they suffer an “internal devaluation” to make themselves more competitive again.  The election results were a cry of anguish about the impact all this is having on families and living standards.

        The pay cuts are correcting the balance of payments. People can afford fewer imports, cutting the deficit on trade account. The Italian budget deficit is under better control than many. The worry the establishment shares in Italy is the need to refinance a very large debt inherited from former governments and decades. The establishment parties and personnel in the Italian government are keen to keep the squeeze on so the markets will not take fright at future borrowing requirements. The EU establishment is even keener, as the last thing they want is Italy to need special loans and support from the rest of the Eurozeone.

           Mr Monti was parachuted in as Prime Minister by the EU although he had not been elected. He replaced Mr Berlusconi, who was making Eurosceptic noises and  beginning to represent the dislike of EU austerity policies felt by many voters. Mr Monti calmed the markets and started to make some progress. Soon he discovered that without his own party and his own MPs in parliament he not get much done. They decided on an election.

            The European establishment threw its weight behind the centre left mainstream party, expecting them to win easily. They hoped Mr Monti too would poll well, and be able to assist the new centre left government. Instead Mr Berlusconi, mildly Eurosceptic, and the 5 Star party of Mr Grillo  polled more than half the votes. Mr Grillo campaigned against politicians, and in favour of a referendum on withdrawal from the Euro.

            The political establishment sees this as irresponsible and damaging behaviour by the voters of Italy. It is surely predictable? If people feel their living standards have been pushed down too much, and are offered no immediate hope of a better tomorrow, they are quite likely to complain and refuse office to those who have been the architects of the single currency led policy. Mr Monti’s  desultory showing in the elections demonstrates just what a huge chasm there is between the political establishment in Euroland and the voters.

            Markets and commentators are shaking their heads in disbelief. They are telling the Italian people they just have to knuckle down and do as the EU and Euro authorities say. The public may not have an immediate and better answer, but is not surprising they are demanding that their politicians find one. Permament austerity, locked into the single currency, is not palatable to many voters.

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  1. Steve Cox
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    Mr Grillo campaigned against politicians…

    That sounds like it might be a popular policy in this country!

    • Iain Gill
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      Yes indeed

    • stred
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 11:27 am | Permalink

      We need a British Grillo – a ‘Brillo’. Andrew Neil are you listening?

      • Bazman
        Posted February 27, 2013 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

        I’d eat there, especially if they sold those cheap and nice rice balls.

    • Disafected
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      Will the public forgive UK politicians for doubling their energy bills, pricing them out of travel by tax, pricing them out of drinking by tax, increasing the amount of people into the 40% tax band plus NI? For what? To give away £56 million each day to the EU, the same for overseas aid, welfare to got 5.2% in addition to the free house and free care home that those of us provide for them through Cameron and Clegg, ECHR and legal bills for terrorist who hate us and we cannot deport because of EU. The list is endless. Our hoist has provided an enormous amount of alternative choices, none taken by Cameron or Clegg. The public needs to accept the coalition is following Labour’s borrow, tax and waste lunatic economics.

      Christopher Booker’s article in the DT this week sums up the stupidity of Cameron and Clegg regarding energy. Our energy prices will double to make wind power look competitive to other sources of energy. So they will effectively be putting millions of people in fuel poverty and making industry less competitive than anywhere else in the world at a time when the economy is in slump and needs as much help as possible (allegedly their number one priority- yeah, right).

      Let us not forget, this is to fulfil an EU directive and emission target that is not soundly based on evidence. 5 coal fired power stations will shut next month, which are perfectly serviceable, to allow wind farms to produce 0.1% of electric (last Saturday) and cannot produce electric in high winds or no wind. Taxes will increase on 01 April on other forms of power stations to make wind power look competitive- is this not lunacy?

      Brought to you originally by Blair signing up to wind farms, Miliband furthering it as energy secretary and the half-wits Cameron and Clegg implementing a Labour policy.

  2. lifelogic
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 6:31 am | Permalink


    “Mr Monti’s desultory showing in the elections demonstrates just what a huge chasm there is between the political establishment in Euroland and the voters.”

    We shall see what the chasm is in Eastleigh on Thursday. Mind you an electorate who voted for the dishonest Eco(leters removed-ed) evangelist Chris Huhne and (the dodgy & wrong on every substantive issue) Libdems in power is clearly rather on odd one.

    Permanent austerity, locked into the single currency, is not palatable to many voters. Why on earth should it be. Neither is a patent lack of any real democracy. Tax without any real democratic controls just becomes EU slavery with bureaucrats appointed as political leaders.

    Italy is a sad place with no jobs in almost any areas, unless you are connected to or sleeping with the powers that be. Nepotism seems to be the only way. Universities, the state sector and many professions seem to be run like family owned companies employing only relatives and friends. Mind you the UK has similar traits in some areas. Politics being one of them and some areas of the state sector being another.

    Perhaps this is why they get so out of touch and sign up to the carbon taxes and the renewables idiocy almost to a man.

    • Nina Andreeva
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 9:12 am | Permalink

      “…locked into the single currency, is not palatable to many voters” and the Anglo-American model of continual QE is any less bearable? A good analogy for the average man in the street is that in the Eurozone you are suffering a stroke, while in the US and UK you are having a heart attack, both are as equally debilitating. However the English patient is going to suffer a lot more than his American cousin because the latter can print with a bit more confidence as the $ is the global reserve currency and is backed with 8000 tonnes of gold (plus another 4000 if things get rough and the US decides to commandeer the gold of other states it is “looking after”).

      • lifelogic
        Posted February 27, 2013 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

        Any it has economies of scale and cheap energy and a recovery under way unlike Cameron’s UK.

    • APL
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      lifelogic: “Permanent austerity, locked into the single currency, is not palatable to many voters.”

      How odd then, according to a programme aired last night, that the Italian politicians seem to be among the highest paid in Europe, allegedly receiving more than their French and German equivalents combined.

      No ‘Permanent austerity’ for the Pols. And ‘whatdyaknow’ our lot of ‘scumbag lowlives* are agitating for a pay rise too.

      Payment by results NOW. The economy is a shambles the politicians have been running it, THEY should all take a very substantial pay cut, until it gets sorted.

      *Taking a random sample, Huhne is a self confessed liar, perjurer and one who will use his family as scapegoats’ for his own dishonesty.

      (Mr Prescott’s conduct in office with staff -ed).

      The Lords seems to be stuffed with former politicians who should be subject to the law rather than making it.

      • P O Pensioner
        Posted February 28, 2013 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

        The Lords has quite a few LibDem members who were each rejected more than once by the electorate in parliamentary elections.
        I think that comfirms Calamity Cleggs respect for democracy!

        • APL
          Posted March 1, 2013 at 11:49 am | Permalink

          PO Pensioner: “quite a few LibDem members who were each rejected more than once by the electorate in parliamentary elections.”

          That is what the Lords has become, the dumping ground for the detritus of the Commons.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 28, 2013 at 1:35 am | Permalink

      I’m surprised you didn’t also complain about proposed negative interest rates by the Bank of England.

  3. Mike Stallard
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    What a brilliant summary of what is going on! I followed all this on several news programmes and, since they were forbidden to mention the EU, I simply could not understand what the problem was. I can now.

    I wish to remind myself of the three reasons why the EU will never work:
    1. It is huge – half a billion people – so rules are broad brush and do not work for details (like the Italian economy).
    2. The people in charge are unelected and therefore do not need to care about their electorate.
    3. It is determined to micromanage. How can, for example, a Hungarian academic truly understand the regional problems in both Albania and East Anglia?.

    • Peter van Leeuwen
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      @Mike Stallard:
      “2. The people in charge are unelected and therefore do not need to care about their electorate.”
      Now let us see . . . we have Elio Di Rupo, Werner Faymann, Petr Nečas, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Andrus Ansip, Jyrki Katainen, François Hollande, Angela Merkel, Antonis Samaras, need I go on? Oops, even forgot David Cameron, I didn’t mean to suggest that he is not in charge! Even Herman van Rompuy was duly elected by his peers to chair this all-important Council of Europe, which, as recent history has shown, is the real body in charge.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted February 27, 2013 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

        It’s the European Council, Peter, not the Council of Europe.

        I’m surprised that you would make such an elementary error.

        I stick with the view so eloquently expressed by our Foreign Secretary, that the European Council including its President lack democratic legitimacy in this country.

        At least that was the view he repeatedly expressed in 2007 and early 2008 when he was Shadow Foreign Secretary; he said that without approval in a referendum the Lisbon Treaty would lack democratic legitimacy in this country, and as the European Council and the post of its President were only created through that treaty it follows logically that neither have any democratic legitimacy in this country.

        Even if he has turned his coat on that, I haven’t.

        • Peter van Leeuwen
          Posted February 28, 2013 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

          @Denis Cooper: You’re absolutely right Denis, I must be getting sloppy in my old age! European Council it is. As for your William Hague, he was just opportunistically and conveniently misusing a common misconception while in opposition. Probably he since remembered Margaret Thatcher’s calling referendums a device of dictators and demagogues and is more silent on this topic.

      • Disaffected
        Posted February 27, 2013 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

        Well put. That is exactly why the UK must leave the dictatorship of the EU. It is not needed nor wanted in this country.

      • Peter Day
        Posted February 27, 2013 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

        The EU Commission makes the law, as the governemt of Europe, and none of them are elected, but are appointed. Everyone knows that there is a massive democratic deficit in the EU, which is based on the old Soviet Union.

        • sjb
          Posted February 28, 2013 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

          The Commission proposes new laws, Peter. Whether their proposals make it into law is up to the Council of the EU (constituted of ministers from Member States) and the directly-elected European Parliament.

        • Peter van Leeuwen
          Posted February 28, 2013 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

          @Peter Day: You’d better study the process in which legislation is made a bit better. The Commission is not a government, it only has a right to initiate a proposal and doesn’t decide on it (that if for European Council and European Parliament), and actually the smaller countries in the EU want to have this European Commission method to be better protected against too much power of largest EU members. Finally the EU is not based on the Soviet Union, that is just hateful UKIP propaganda, only gullible Brits would be taken in by.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted March 1, 2013 at 11:07 am | Permalink

            “Here in Brussels, a true European government has been born. I have governmental powers, I have executive powers for which there is no other name in the world, whether you like it or not, than government”

            EU Commission President Romano Prodi, addressing the EU Parliament, November 1999.

  4. Alan
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    I wonder what Mr Redwood means by saying that Mr Monti was “parachuted in as Prime Minister by the EU”. Is it a reference to Mr Monti having been an EU Commissioner? Mr Monti was appointed by the Italian president and received votes of confidence by the Italian parliament, after the financial problems became too acute for Mr Berlusconi’s government to cope with. It is true that Mrs Merkel and Mr Sarkozy, somewhat undiplomatically, made their lack of confidence in Mr Berlusconi evident and that may have made it even more difficult for Mr Berlusconi to give confidence to the financial markets, but I don’t think they either engineered his downfall or had a hand in appointing his successor. I’d be interested to hear an accurate account of how Mr Monti was selected.

    Reply: it was quite clear Mr Monti was the EU’s preferred man for the job, and they gave him help in smooth talking the markets.

    • Peter van Leeuwen
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      Luckily, it is not forbidden nor undemocratic to have a preference.

      • Slim Jim
        Posted February 27, 2013 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

        Well, the Italian people, (the real people who count in a democracy) have certainly made their preference! The EU, like its supporters, has its head firmly up its own backside.

      • Winston Smith
        Posted February 27, 2013 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

        Mr Monti’s party received just 10% of votes.

    • rd
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      Did any of the public vote for Mr Monti when he became Prime Minister? No… yet Barroso claimed this was democratic. Now when around 10% of the public have voted for Mr Monti Barroso says it ‘populist’. Perhaps ‘populism’ is only those ‘elections’ that do not return a result that the Commission approves (I recall the first Irish vote on Lisbon was called ‘populist’ in the European Parliament) or is it worse? Could it be that the ‘populism’ which we ‘must reject/ignore’ is when the public votes?

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted February 28, 2013 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

        @RD: interesting but skewed veiw of democracy.
        Fewer than 34000 people voted for David Cameron in 2010. If so little of the public vote was for Cameron, what had this to do with democracy?
        Ultimately, democracy is decided by having the support of a representative (unlike UK) parliament, which is what Mr. Monti had.

    • Mike
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

      Or another way of describing it would be a coup d’etat. Same with Greece.

  5. alan jutson
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    The Tea Party in the USA

    Mr Grillo in Italy

    People are starting to wake up that politicians for years, all over the World, have been feckless with the peoples money.

    I wonder what is next for the UK ?.

    Politicians here should start to worry as well, because sometimes human nature means you are prepared to cut off your nose to spite your face, just to score a bigger hit on your target, to teach them a lesson.

    Politicians do not seem to understand human nature at all do they.


    Raise taxes, but then get less money !

    • Bob
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 9:26 am | Permalink

      @AJ – “Raise taxes, but then get less money !”

      It’s not about mending the economy, it’s about appealing to the human emotion of envy.

      ukip don’t do this, they just tell it like it is, flat tax, grammar schools, nuclear power, the need for immigration control etc. etc.

      • John Maynard
        Posted February 27, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

        Ha-ha, who are you kidding ?
        Farage is the archetypical (sociable-ed), engaging, pub (story teller-ed).
        His main appeal is to the visceral hate of “foreigners controlling our way of life” and general frustrated, deep seated anger in a time of stress, particularly for pensioners (who, despite Willetts’ inane witterings, have been disproportionately hit by government policy).

        I entirely sympathise with the emotions, but UKIP is an irrelevent dead end.

      • Winston Smith
        Posted February 27, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

        If UKIP continue to rise and threaten the status quo of LibLabCon One Government, then I predict a ‘Brillo’ will emerge with the encouragement of the political establishment. They will use divide and rule to split the protest vote.

      • Bazman
        Posted February 27, 2013 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

        How is a flat tax going to raise the money for massively subidised nuclear power programme and why should the middle income earners be hit for the bill as they would be with a flat tax system? Just for kick off Bob..

      • P O Pensioner
        Posted February 28, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

        UKIP are like the Lib Dems who have always offered “solutions” but didn’t know how it would be funded and don’t need to worry because they know they can’t win an election as the LibDems. In coalition we’ve seen what they really are and it is not a pretty sight! UKIP will just allow the discredited undeserving Labour Party to gain power at the next election. How will they clear up the mess? God help us.

        Cameron has made a mess of his premiership opportunity by disregarding what his voters put him there to do. In the process he has probably destroyed the Conservative Party as well. I’ve not ceased to be a Conservative it is the “Conservative Party of Cameron” that has left me.

        • Bob
          Posted March 1, 2013 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

          @P O Pensioner

          I think you’ll find that ukip are pretty honest about their commitments, which is why that have already said that their objectives cannot be accomplished overnight. It’s all about direction of travel, i.e. smaller state, less bureaucracy, less tax.
          This would encourage business and therefore growth in the economy. The alternative has been tried many times and it doesn’t work. If higher taxes was the answer, then there wouldn’t be a problem, we would just increase taxes and voilà, our problems would be solved.

    • Disaffected
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

      Well said Alan.

      People are realising the injustice of having their money taken from them without consent and wasted, literally p**sed down the drain by self serving greedy corrupt people who should actually be setting the standards, not for people to act in stark contrast to them and use them as examples as how not to behave.

      Kelly report still sitting on the shelf. Clegg was most vociferous over the expenses scandal and we learn this current Lib Dem episode was going on about the same time when he was advocating shutting the gates of Westminster until politics is cleaned up. Today his comments show he wants to limit what the press can say- no wonder. This is a clear example why Levison MUST NOT be implemented. Politicians cannot be trusted. Lib Dems are a sordid party. Paddy Ashdown now rallying to the cause, was he not the one caught committing adultery with another woman! That is not to mention the seat is available because the former Lib Dem MP is on his way to jail for lying and an expense cheat sits in cabinet. They are unbelievable.

    • Peter Day
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

      For the UK there is obviously UKIP, as all 3 main parties want to keep the UK in this corrupt and undemocratic organisation.

  6. Leslie Singleton
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Let’s hope there is a referendum and a resultant crisis which eventually triggers Germany leaving at least the Euro–then we might start to see some sense. It continues to be the case that Germany is only there to try to expiate its guilt. Soon that is going to wear off and the Germans will start to wonder whom if anybody they are doing any favours for. They are simply bound to ask increasingly why they gave up their much loved, hard and well respected Deutsche Mark for the silly and artificial Euro, which, absent huge and unwanted political change and amalgamation, is doing more harm than good.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 28, 2013 at 1:38 am | Permalink

      Given that the other countries are weakening the euro, which makes Germany’s exports more competitive, expect Germany to be the last country to leave.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted February 28, 2013 at 9:30 am | Permalink

        unanime–Gee Golly Gosh, your judgement differs from mine. First, what happens when the Euro rises again? Secondly, the DM was of course ultra strong, certainly far from weak, and of course Germany had not the slightest trouble exporting, rather the opposite. The main point surely is the very simple one that it is Germany that pays the bills. Also there is no joy any more for Germany holding hands on the edge of the sands with France and dancing by the light of the moon.

  7. Gary
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    How do you deflate a credit bubble that no amount of realistic growth can dent ?

    You have to cut spending by implementing austerity. On this, the EU is correct. But the people will not accept austerity, they will always vote for handouts.

    So more credit will be issued and eventual economic collapse assured.

    • A different Simon
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      The West may eventually try austerity but that will not dent it either .

      Either the creditors take a haircut now or they hang on till the bitter end and take a possibly bigger haircut .

      Governments need to start issuing their own money , interest free too .

      So why are they going to lengths to avoid doing a deal with creditors ? I can only think that this is a deliberate attempt by the elite to impose by economic means a one-child policy and euthanasia on the masses , no doubt something to do with their green religion .

      • rd
        Posted February 27, 2013 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

        The banks cannot afford a ‘haircut’ nor can they be ‘bailed out’. Eurozone banks have ‘assets’ (liabilities) 300%+ of eurozone GDP.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted February 27, 2013 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        In effect the UK government is already issuing its own interest-free money, using the publicly owned Bank of England as its agent.

        However we haven’t yet got to the stage where our elected representatives in Parliament have woken up and decided that they should control the creation of these vast sums of new money, not the Chancellor.

  8. Ben Kelly
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    Your above example proves less that the EU is bad for individual countries and more that the electorate always votes for itself.

    When imports and money were cheap Italian voters supported the EU despite its inherent weaknesses. Similarly in Greece, the Eastern incomers as well as France and Germany, when the EU could provide jam today as well as jam tomorrow most were in favour.

    Populations get the democracies they deserve and our electorate favours the client state with cheap imported labour. Labour socially engineered thte population to favour it and now Conservatives are attempting to make work pay thus evolving the electorate in the direction of the private sector in the manner of privatisation did in the eighties.

    Unfortunately for the Conservatives most of those finding that benefits subsidsed employment pays are foreign.

  9. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    Mafia, nepotism, misuse of media monopolies, national north-south divide, decades of high debt, these aren’t necessarily EU- or euro related problems. The bigger picture for me is, that, different from decades ago, we (on the continent) are much more interested and involved (angry sometimes) with what happens in other EZ and EU countries, a kind of europeanisation of national issues. Provided that Italian problems will be eased or solved over time, this is all part of the same process: Europe gradually moving towards closer union (which is not the same as some superstate).

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 9:12 am | Permalink

      Peter–Of course they aren’t necessarily related which would imply that it is necessary for them to be related, which is not the case, but they are related just the same if only because the EU and the Euro have made small issues – the North-South divide for instance – in to big ones. And as you well know it is not just “closer union” but “ever closer union” which is, or certainly would eventually become, a lot closer to “some superstate” than you imply, and that’s apart from the fact that the Euro will never work – this is unarguably obvious – without such a superstate, which I reckon few indeed want.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted February 27, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

        @Leslie Singleton:
        True, and as a direct quotation: “determined to lay the foundations of an ever-closer union among the peoples of Europe”. Notice that this poetic aspiration mentions “peoples” and could be interpreted in different ways: greater understanding, more inter-marrying, sharing common values, culture, and indeed institutions. Nowhere is a United States of Europe mentioned, even if it was heralded by Sir Winston Churchil in 1946 (we cannot blame him for not being an accurate prophet). I don’t know if the Italian North-South divide, which predates the EU, has become worse since or as a result of the euro, you are of course right that there now appears to be an EU North-South divide in the EZ, especially in the media (if you knew the current Dutch problems you’d think it was a South-EZ country!). You state that the euro will never work without a superstate, but I think that most Dutch politicians and experts wouldn’t agree with you and think that the current hybrid will continue with, in some areas a closer integration of competences and pooling of sovereignty in those areas. Spanish ministers in the EZ will have a say about a Dutch deficit and Dutch ministers about Spanish deficits, when they meet as a eurogroup. Wisely they have delegated this to a more impartial referee – Olly Rehn for the moment. Actually, the euro is already working, it is a pretty strong curency and has been for over a decade.

        Reply: Churchill forecast exactly the union of contineantal countries that is emerging, but also made clesar the UK would not be part of it. He wanted us to be part of a Union of the English Speaking Peoples (See the concluding remarks of his History of the English Speaking Peoples and Fulton speech.)

        • Peter van Leeuwen
          Posted March 1, 2013 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

          You are correct about Mr. Churchill. Maybe I have underestimated his prophetic skills and will his idea be followed one day . . . in five years time?
          In the meantime other EU countries should make the most of the Brixit risk premium on investments in Britain.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 9:39 am | Permalink

      How can you ‘(on the continent)’ be ‘much more interested and involved (angry sometimes) with what happens in other EZ and EU countries’ and yet say that the ‘Mafia, nepotism, misuse of media monopolies, national north-south divide, decades of high debt, aren’t necessarily EU – or euro related problems ‘? Please also explain to me just when moving towards ever closer union stops short of ‘some superstate’ and how you would define the difference.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted February 27, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

        @Brian Tomkinson: The reason I say this because these problems pre-date the EU and thus the euro as well. For a small illustration, try through internet and find Mafia branches in the (non-euro) UK and you’ll find out about them.
        Defining the difference between a superstate and what I call hybrid: There has been some pooling of sovereignty since the 1951 European Coal and Steel Community (“a common High Authority”), which gradually evolved into the Lisbon Treaty EU in 2009, in which more sovereignty is pooled. Fot the countries within the Eurozone, this integration process has to cover fiscal and to some extent economic affairs. I see that many EU politicians, including Van Rompuy as expressing their middle ground and also including Mario Dragi (ECB) trying only to do the minimum required to keep the euro stable. If they succeed, the hybrid will always continue. Of course there are convinced federalists like Guy Verhofstad, who would take the EU much closer to a superstate, but they represent a minority view, just like eurosceptics in the EU represent a minority view. To try and summarise:
        superstate – all policy areas are unionised / federalized
        hybrid – only those policy areas required to keep the euro stable are brought under supranational governance.

    • John Maynard
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      There seems to be a misconception on here that the votes for Berlusconi and Grillo are anti-EU.
      Actually, as a maximum, they are votes against the Euro, but more probably, against the brute austerity dictates from a German dominated EU bureaucracy.
      Probably, only a tiny minority of Italians would be interested in leaving the EU.
      Grillo is not the Italian Farage.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

      The German Chancellor Kohl knew all about that when he insisted that Italy must be allowed to join the first wave of the euro.

    • Jonathan Sparke
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

      Responds that he disagrees strongly with you -ed

    • Bazman
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

      Even the Italian mafia have failed to make progress with their slow uptake on white collar crime, which the Russians saw very early on, and the drug cartels. This with their insular world view making it difficult for them to form alliances with our mafia gangs.

  10. alan
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    I don’t think Italy’s problems can be blamed on the euro. I think they are caused by overspending.

    I think that the fact that Italy is in the euro zone removes from Italy’s governments the option of devaluing their currency. I think it is good that they cannot do that, and are instead forced to confront the real problems. I regret that the UK does not have this constraint.

    We will see whether Italy can deal with its underlying economic and political problems, and maybe what the outcome will be if it cannot. I wish the Italians well. In many ways it is a marvellous country.

    • Gary
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      Spot on. It would be a disaster if Italy would leave the Euro in order to print their way to oblivion. Restructuring is very ugly but very necessary.

      • John Maynard
        Posted February 27, 2013 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

        A 35% competitivity realignment by “internal devaluation” over a couple of years, is suicidal. Exit from the Euro-zone and devaluation (if that were possible without provoking huge dislocation costs – very doubtful), would be preferable.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted February 27, 2013 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

        Gary–As written, what you say is obviously correct but, that said, it is not saying very much, in that where is it written that if the Italians (very sensibly) brought back the Lira they would “print their way” anywhere never mind oblivion? I reckon they will have learnt their lesson, especially once they have broomed their crazy present constitutional arrangements, which I reckon (BTW my mother was Italian) they are bound to do after the fiasco of this latest election.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

      For some years euro membership meant that Italy could borrow excessively but still at interest rates very close to those enjoyed by Germany, in effect relying on Germany’s credit rating rather than the poorer credit rating it would otherwise have had.

  11. lifelogic
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    I see Daniel Hannan has it about right in the telegraph today:-

    The late Conservative MP Keith Joseph, godfather of Thatcherism, used to say, “Give people more responsibility and they’ll behave more responsibly.” Might that not be true of entire nations? For an answer, glance across Italy’s northern border. Switzerland is perhaps the most democratic state in the world. Its people are regularly asked to vote in referendums on quite minor changes in tax and spending. In consequence, they have a pretty good sense of what governments can afford. They know – because many of the cantons require referendums to be fiscally neutral, meaning that proponents of additional spending must incorporate into the question the commensurate spending cut or tax rise – that state expenditure comes from their pockets. Result? Spending, taxes and borrowing are low, and Switzerland is one of the wealthiest places on Earth.
    Treat voters like children and you get sulks and tantrums. Treat them like adults and you get – well, you get Switzerland. As the Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen puts it: “Don’t ask whether a nation is fit for democracy; it becomes fit through democracy.” Amen.”

    Still we do not want to be a “Greater Switzerland” Cameron says, giving no reasons nor justifications, needless to say. Perhaps he just likes a devaluing currency, huge debts, negative growth, no democracy, no border controls, being 60% as rich, and having a huge deficit. That must be it, he just likes some real problems to augment.

    Mind you the otherwise admirable Keith Joseph did, I believe, inadvertently cause Lady Thatchers demise by pushing the political disaster of the poll tax onto the agenda. It was always daft politically even if right in principal. Now we have the bedroom tax it seems.

    • stred
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      Re. Switzerland. After being rammed by Bazman, who posted a DT article about the NHS being the best value on Earth, I looked up the wiki figures for earnings to compare the real cost to the Swiss. Their excellent health service was 60% more expensive but salaries were 2.43 ! x the UK and twice the French.

    • John Maynard
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

      Dan Hannan in “making a good argument, then extending it to absurdity” shock.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 28, 2013 at 1:44 am | Permalink

      Spending, taxes and borrowing are low, and Switzerland is one of the wealthiest places on Earth.

      Taxes are not low in Switzerland and Government spending is high. It’s wealthy because of low unemployment and high average salaries. So a Greater Switzerland cannot be achieved in a country with large income disparity or low taxes.

  12. Bob
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    “They are telling the Italian people they just have to knuckle down and do as the EU and Euro authorities say.”

    Does this mean they will have to rerun the elections until they can get the right result?
    Reply: They may have to!

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

      If there are fresh elections, it will be made much clearer to the Italians that even if they want to leave the euro then they will also have to leave the EU and so be cast into outermost darkness.

      That’s under the present EU treaties, and although the Dutch Prime Minister has said that the treaties should be changed to allow a country to leave the euro but stay in the EU nobody of any importance has come out publicly supporting that proposal, not even Cameron.

  13. M.A.N
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    You cannot run a communist state, which is what the eu is turning into and not far from completion, by consent. Why do these modern liberals think that will work?. So your average eu citizen suffers a gradual erosion in his living standards to finance new eu members, what’s in it for the average worker? This will only work by military intimidation, ie fear of death , see former USSR and china, it won’t work any other way!. Telling people what to do in the condescending patronising manner barroso do, just spites people. They don’t care, they think they are ‘right’, have no social skills, and have never done a days work in thier lives.

  14. James Reade
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Ah yes, the source of all Italian problems is the euro, isn’t it! There’s no hint that anything else, the inability of successive governments to make labour market reforms, the subdued world demand, etc, are all having no impact whatsoever?

    Just think, perhaps if Italy was outside the eurozone, it could have had a 25% depreciation in the value of its currency back in 2008-9, that way it could have readjusted and by now it would be growing strongly wouldn’t it?

    Just like the UK, which had its 25% depreciation in 2008-09, and is really growing strongly currently. Having one’s own currency solves all problems, doesn’t it?

    Reply Sarcasm is a low way of arguing.
    I do not deny that a country with its own currency still needs to cut its deficits and control its debts. It is the case that the UK’s economic performance has been better than Italy’s recently thanks to the ability to pursue its own money policy.

    • Winston Smith
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

      What Labour market reforms are required? Do you mean making them more competitive with the fast growing economies, like China? Do you not understand that EU rules and directives are preventing individual nations from enacting such reforms and becoming competitive?

      • James Reade
        Posted February 28, 2013 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

        Ah yes, that nasty old EU again, getting in the way of everything.

        But even if it was EU regulations, that’s a different cause than the euro, the one John is peddling.

        If the nasty EU has got in the way of all the valiant efforts of successive Italian governments to liberalise their labour markets, how is it then that the UK has managed it? How is it then that Germany has even managed to do so?

        It sounds to me like you’re so desperate to blame the EU for everything, you completely miss the blatantly obvious alternative explanations in front of you.

    • zorro
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

      James, didn’t you fancy using Iceland as an example of how to achieve growth….?


      • James Reade
        Posted February 28, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

        My understanding is that Iceland has indeed grown quite strongly recently, and I believe their PM was attributing that to avoiding austerity recently also.

        I sense though you’re trying to trap me in my comments here – perhaps something like “haha, look, they didn’t have the euro though!”.

        My point against John is not that somehow the euro is wonderful and it’s everything else contributing to Italy’s terrible economy performance – just that there are other factors at work.

        On this blog, the regulars all attribute everything bad to the EU, Europe or the euro. All I try and do is point out there might just be other causal factors at work too…

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

      James – Right or wrong about the benefits of a single currency (and a single state for that matter) – it is all being done quite undemocratically.

      • James Reade
        Posted February 28, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

        What’s undemocratic? They just had their elections, right?

        Moreover, if you think somehow we should all be voting on monetary policy matters, what’s so democratic about our monetary policy arrangements here in the UK? Group of people meet behind closed doors and make decisions affecting all of us – they don’t get elected on to that role.

        You could respond “we elect the MPs that have ultimate power” – but then the same is true for countries that adopted the euro – their elected policymakers did that, and could certainly force a withdrawal from the euro should they wish to.

    • James Reade
      Posted February 28, 2013 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      Interesting, because you never use sarcasm either, do you John?

      The UK’s performance has been relatively better more likely because it has a more flexible labour market than any particularly wonderful monetary policy making.

      Once again – many competing explanations for what we observe, many that you simply ignore in order to peddle your political agenda.

      • Edward2
        Posted February 28, 2013 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

        Its the joy of democracy James, everyone has a different opinon and everyone has a different solution.
        Your isn’t necessarily the best.
        Debate is always good.

  15. Backofanenvelope
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Italy is a democracy. The voters want to stay in the Euro and not to suffer “austerity”. It is not up to them to arrange this – it is up to the politicians. If they can’t or won’t do it then stand aside . There never seems to be a shortage of politicians!

    • Peter Day
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

      The Italians cannot have it both ways; staying in the Euro and not suffering austerity. It is because they’re in the Euro, and cannot devalue, that they have no choice but austerity. Therefore the answer is for Italy to leave the Euro, but the political establishment are very good at persuading them that this would be a disaster. Look at Iceland, it left the Euro and has prospered according, just like Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal etc., would also prosper if it left the Euro.

      • James Reade
        Posted February 28, 2013 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

        Huh?!?!? “Look at Iceland, it left the Euro and has prospered”?!?!?!

        Iceland left the euro?

        Erm, that’s not quite what happened.

  16. NickW
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    The papers are portraying the election result as “Disaster for Europe”.

    It isn’t; it’s the best thing that could happen. Failed policies are being rejected and democracy is being restored. Europe has a future again.

    It isn’t good news if; like Clegg; you were dreaming of a future as an unelected European politician, vigorously sucking the life out of the European public with your perks, pensions, and huge salary.

    It is not clear why the media is following the European Government line; the public issued their press statement when they voted, and it is being ignored.

  17. RCS
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Perhaps the election result shows that the EU scales have dropped from the eyes of the Ita;ians. When a country gets into an appalling economic mess, there is a chance that the country can muddle, or manage, its way through its problems. When the problem is regarded as having been created by an outside agency, and the country has to dance to that agency’s tune, resentment and nationalism will surface.

    I hope that Italy does have a referendum on Euro membership. That might put this unbegotten political mistake out its misery.

  18. Chris
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Yesterday’s Guardian eurocrisis blog 5.21 pm entry makes for very interesting reading. It relates to the aftermath of the Italian election and a comment by Barroso. Democracy is apparently derided by Barroso as “populism” and must be sacrificed for the greater good of the euro project. Nothing says it plainer than that.
    5.21 pm entry.
    “EC president Barroso warns of giving in to populism. European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso seems to be taking a swing at democracy, or “populism” as he called it. Speaking at a Reuters summit he said – in the wake of Italian voters rejecting Mario Monti’s austerity programme:

    ‘I hope we are not going to follow the temptation to give in to populism because of the results in one specific member state. The question we have to ask ourselves is the following: should we determine our policy, our economic policy, by short-term electoral considerations or by what has to be done to put Europe back on the path to sustainable growth? For me the answer is clear.’

    Barroso said that just because Monti had been turfed out of office, it did not mean his policies were wrong….”

    • Winston Smith
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

      I believe he is saying that they will force the Italian political elite to implement his EU cabal’s policies, against the democratic mandate. EU fascism.

    • zorro
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

      LOL….Barroso….spoken like a true Maoist.


    • uanime5
      Posted February 28, 2013 at 1:50 am | Permalink

      Just because something is popular doesn’t make it right or the best option for the country.

      • Edward
        Posted February 28, 2013 at 9:47 am | Permalink

        Come on now Uni, stop pinching these old quotes from Uncle Joe Stalin.

  19. English Pensioner
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    The Mail today refers to a country “where a comedian holds the balance of power”.
    Until I read more, I thought that they were describing Britain and Nick Clegg.

  20. MajorFrustration
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    There is quite a chasm in the UK as well.

  21. oldtimer
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    The vote in Italy is likely to be repeated elsewhere in the EU in the years ahead. European citizens have awarded themselves a benefits system and social model which is unaffordable in the modern world and which is unsustainable, over time, in competition with the rest of the world. Like a flywheel, it will take time to run down – but slow down and stop it will unless changes are made. This will be an extremely painful and divisive process as events in Greece, Spain and now Italy reveal.

    Here, in the UK, the process of adjustment has barely started. The problem is that those in charge seem incapable of implementing the policies needed to ease the transition to a more self reliant society that no longer fools itself into thinking that printing money is the answer. But that is where we are today. I have no confidence in those in charge – or in the Opposition who want to be in charge. It is not even a case of them having lost the plot. They never understood it in the first place.

    • P O Pensioner
      Posted February 28, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

      oldtimer – I agree with what you say.

      It seems to me that the Conservative led Coalition are afraid to put in place real austerity measures because of the electoral consequences. Or are the LibDems stopping them?

      The Labour opposition and their friends at the BBC have been shouting since the election about “savage cuts” when we know that no such thing has been happening. If the Coalition had introduced real cuts and stopped borrowing more money and begun to get the economy moving in the right direction the Labour opposition and the BBC would have been shouting “savage Tory cuts effecting poor people” and demonised what had to be done and by the date of the next election Labour would have regained power and inherited a better economy with the Tories getting the blame (as will happen anyway). The mass of the electorate has a short attention span and an inability to learn the real facts behind the headlines. We have too many people who are dependent upon the welfare state handouts and like Turkeys they will not vote for Christmas! We can’t maintain this overspend and borrow madness indefinitely whatever party gets into power!

    • A different Simon
      Posted February 28, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      Oldtimer ,

      Certainly the do-gooders and power hungry politicians killed the Wests welfare state with kindness ; by expanding it until it collapsed under it’s own weight . It was like feeding a dog three big meals a day .

      Given we cannot compete with China and India on their terms , what is the point in trying ?

      Since they don’t have social overheads due to the abysmal way they treat their citizens surely the rest of the World should levy import tariffs until the Chinese and Indian’s start playing according to the rules ?

  22. Neil Craig
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    I find the reporting on thjis by our media, particularly the state owned BBC propaganda organisation, to be consistent.

    ALL reporting is done from the pointof view of the “left”. Berlusconi is always portrayed as a clown (inexplicable that the Italian people have repeatedly voted for him) and Grillo is ALWAYS described as a “comedian” (a bit like always describing Boris as a quiz show participant) while his commitment to a referendum on the Euro is ignored.

    So long as our media is both state controlled and wholly corrupt democracy in this country is stunted and it is impossible for the people to form a considered hudgement on foreign affairs.

    (attack on Blair removed-ed)

    • Duncan
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

      Neil, I agree – our first hurdle is to get rid of the BBC in its present form. What do we replace it with? Free enterprise – and no monopolies – which brings us to our second important task – vigorously root our the monopolies in the print media, and encourage truly free enterprise in the media. Censorship is, of course, anathema.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 28, 2013 at 2:05 am | Permalink

      The TV show Russell Howard’s Good News also shows why portraying Berlusconi as a clown is somewhat accurate. Below is a list of gaffs by Berlusconi.

      Beppe Grillo is described as a “comedian” because before he entered politics his job was a comedian. Let’s hope he didn’t start his political party as a joke.

  23. oldtimer
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Since writing my earlier post I read that, according to the Centre for Policy Research, the UK`s QE programme now = 22% of GDP. In the USA it = 13% of GDP; in the EU it =4%. QE accounts for 46% of UK sovereign bonds; the value of outstanding gilts has rsen by two and a half times in five years. The total now = £832 billion, equivalent to £33000 for every UK household. The cost to savers is £65 billion pa.

    • stred
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      Jesus! And our GDP is half stuff like counting happiness and the plods buying BMWs. We are off to Italy next week and I haven’t bought the Euros yet. Tescos here I come.

  24. Busted and Broke
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    As though being busted and broke becomes an optional thing once it’s happened to you.

    I cannot get my head around this ‘refusal’ to accept austerity.

    • A different Simon
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps it is because as a nation during most of the 20th Century they had authentic austerity .

      Their cars such as the Fiat Topolino (mouse) and scooters such as Lambretta were designed to mak the best use of a litre of benzina .

      Their products are generally outstanding quality . I’d rather operate a piece of Italian agricultural machinery or an Italian Drillmec drilling land drilling rig than risk my life or the life of others on what the Chinese export for others to use .

      When the cost of the materials alone for a piece of Italian agricultural machinery exceeds the wholesale cost of the completed item from China it’s clear that the cost cutting goes well beyond wages and that the result must be a piece of crap which only an MBA would be stupid enough to buy .

      It’s not a level playing field . Over half the stuff which comes in from China would not pass European Certification here so why does it get rubber stamped with an E-mark ? Why are our EU masters betraying us ?

      By nature Italian’s are savers rather than spenders and borrowers .

      Sure the Italian’s have had their problems but in comparison the UK is a total basket case .

      • Busted and Broke
        Posted February 27, 2013 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

        There is some outstanding stuff coming out of China as well as the ‘crap’.

        Many western corporations have seen fit to outsource factories there – note that they do not pass savings onto their customers and manage to increase their profits instead.

        For purposes of quality control they expat western production engineers (on the most generous packages) out there to supervise.

        The Chinese are well up to matching quality at competitive prices but need to be watched closely.

        How are they getting their materials cheaper ?

        Gillette are based out there for example.

        • A different Simon
          Posted February 28, 2013 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

          I don’t deny that China can make things every bit as good as anywhere else .

          To do so requires expensive processes starting at the design phase right through to quality control and then after care – it is not possible to achieve the same quality just by copying dimensions . The net result might be cheaper but it won’t be cheap .

          Where the difference in price is massive , it is not due to getting materials cheaper so much as using cheaper materials and cutting corners at every stage .

          Critical parts which in the UK might be machined out of a solid piece of a certificated billet which was vacuum degassed during manufacture and x-rayed before machining and heat treated and measured after heat treatment might be made out of a cheaper less consistent alloy .

          Persuading a largely undiscerning market of end-users to pay for quality , wherever it comes from , is difficult when price is the overriding criteria .

      • John Maynard
        Posted February 28, 2013 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, right.
        When (company name removed-ed) switched manufacture of it’s (words left out ed) machinery to Italy, there was an immediate, huge drop in quality.
        You have obviously not driven (an Italian car-ed) lately either.

        As for China, they export a lot of cheap (goods-ed) to Europe, and Europe exports a load of expensive (goods-ed) back (“branded” so-called luxury goods).
        A Chinese handbag selling for £5, which lasts about 18 months, or a “branded” handbag (no names, no packdrill), costing £200 and lasting 3-4 years, but looking tatty and “out of fashion” in two years ?
        Who is conning whom ?

  25. Normandee
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    I know that polls change all the time, but they are normally quite gradual once a trend has been set. So using the poll figures used by Tom Chivers in his Telegraph blog on Monday, we have reached a quite startling position, and short of a cataclysmic change these figures remain reasonable accurate. At the time both LibDem and Con parties were hovering around 30 /31 %, and UKIP were on 21%, so, assuming that the UKIP vote is only 50% ex or normally tory voters, that means Cameron would have a 10% lead in Eastleigh. given that, can he and you continue to treat UKIP with the obvious disdain that you do. Extrapolated over a GE that is a humbling defeat for Cameron, and please don’t use the tired old excuse that this is only a by election, because if the EU continues in the direction it’s going and when we have had the expected surge in immigrants we expect, it will affect the GE.

    Reply: I have not said anything myself about UKIP recently – I have merely told readers of the Conservative leadership’s view. My View remains that a split Eurosceptic movement is a less effective movement.

    • Normandee
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      Yes John but as we have discussed before, the capacity for your party to become Anti EU is appearing more and more to be finite, and being in the minority in such a small, and in truth, non representative group of people, is getting you and us nowhere. Regardless of how strange that sounds. UKIP is an individual group which can and will, I believe, grow at the rate it is growing now until it becomes a serious challenge to the lock the 2 main parties have on us. (I don’t think it is unfair to write off the limpdums, at this rate they should disappear or disintegrate soon.)

  26. Andyvan
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    “demonstrates just what a huge chasm there is between the political establishment in Euroland and the voters.”
    Just like here then.
    It merely underlines the point that politicians do not govern on behalf of the people, they govern the people on behalf of themselves and their best interests. If morality and common sense had any meaning in politics then almost all of the economic policies followed in the past 60 years would never have been dreamt up. Never ending deficit spending, constantly expanding government and regulation, the EU, crushing taxation and on and on. I’m only surprised there aren’t mobs with pick axe handles and rope smashing down the doors of every parliament building in Europe. We can but hope.

  27. behindthefrogs
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    In the UK we need more good news, not pointless riots against politicians. The Tesco step to buy more British although done for entirely commercial reasons is a step in the correct direction. It should in fact employ a few more people and as a result help the deficit by gathering more income tax and NI contributions while paying less benefits. We need hundreds of companies and the general population to commit to buying British.

    • Normandee
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

      unfortunately the truth of Tesco’s statement is that at this moment they are (negotiaiting very keen prices-ed)meat producers to achieve prices that the producers cannot survive on.

  28. Voice_From_The_Floor
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    ‘and refuse office to those who have been the architects of the single currency led policy’

    Europe is a collection of nation states which are so disparate in their cultures, philosophies and economies that any attempt to unite them in a system of common governance can only ever end in failure.

    It is incumbent on elected governments to pursue realistic and pragmatic policies which are in the best interests of those who have elected them. Instead, governments throughout the EU, with their head in the clouds, have pursued idealogical policies ultimately designed to attempt this impossible union. The result has been (and continues to be) the slow destruction of living standards for electorates throughout the EU.

    The results of the Italian election are not simply an anti-austerity vote. They are an expression of outrage that ‘the architects of the policy’ are now DEMANDING that their electorates pay for their leaders’ ineptitude.

    Governments throughout Europe (and including the UK) are vulnerable to this charge. ‘Refusal of office’ is just a beginning. In the fullness of time, this is going to turn ugly.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 28, 2013 at 2:12 am | Permalink

      The cultures, philosophies, and economies of European countries are far closer to other European countries than non-European countries. So an attempt to unify them is not doomed to failure.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted February 28, 2013 at 9:40 am | Permalink

        unanime–Your logic is simply wrong because the comparison with non-European countries is irrelevant just as a comparison with countries on the Moon would be. The only thing that matters is the comparison between the countries in the EU and the differences there, despite what you seek to imply, are profound.

  29. Alte Fritz
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    The media often report continued substantial support for the Euro in Italy and Greece, albeit that these claims are made apocryphally. The evidence of the election suggests otherwise. The revival of Mr Berlusconi suggests that he is pressing one button that is noticed.

    • Alte Fritz
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      And sure enough, it is reported that the leader of Germany’s opposition has berated the Italian people for voting for two “clowns”.

      At least Mr Napolitano has cancelled an engagement with this archetypal Euro (politician-ed).

  30. Antisthenes
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    What the electorate in Italy, the euro-zone and everywhere else come to that want is for the largess of the state to continue. The fact that cultural socialism has run out of other peoples money is an irrelevance to them. The euro-zone tells it all the peripheral countries having run out of their own money and borrowed money is out of reach now want the richer member states to bankroll them. Bit by bit the dependency and entitlement culture and the accompanying corruption and ineptitude fostered by the left is becoming unravelled. The only sensible thing now for most Western nations to do to repair the economic, social and political damage that decades of social democracy has done is to bite the bullet. There is now no alternative to large cuts to spending, taxes, the sweeping away of swaths of laws and regulations and the dismantling of the EU an euro-zone. To do anything else, which of course our beloved leaders especially the EU oligarchy will, is to court disaster

  31. Pleb
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    My family has decided to only buy meat that we can source from the UK. If we can’t establish its origion then we will refuse to buy it.

  32. Bert Young
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Democracy has shown its head in Italy ; the outcome is one of uncertainty and an illustration of the North / South divide in Europe . Italians can not ( indeed should not ) be expected to accept and inculcate the disciplines prevalent in Germany into their society . Italians will always be out-going and emotional . The highly cultural and innovative part of their nature will produce car and fashion designers second to none ; their free spirit is highly commendable . I expect they will add force in their next voting for a referendum on Europe and the Euro and , as a result , be all the more satisfied in themselves .

  33. Paul Marks
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    I do not believe that ever higher taxes (indeed invented NEW taxes) to fund payments to credit bubble bankers, and to fund “investment in education” (what industry did Prof Mario Monti come from again? no special favours for friends there, not even slightly…..) deserved even 10% of the vote.

    If “austerity” really meant a smaller government (less govenrment spending and LOWER taxes) I would be interested. But it means HIGHER (and new) taxes – and special government spending for the friends of those in power (in this case including E.U. bankers – and “investment in education”).

    So the voters are right to tell the rulers to stick “austerity” up their …….

  34. Martin
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    I think you are reading way too much into the Italian tea leaves.

    As ever the Italian politicians will work away in their customary Italian way which their northern neighbours never understand. After a while one realises that this is part of the charm of the country and its people.

    As for the EU the Italians know that when push comes to shove it is Euro membership and all that entails or exit the EU and bye bye agricultural subsidies.

  35. waramess
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Maybe we just miss the point when we talk disparagingly of an aversion to austerity. As pointed out in yesterdays blog, austerity was meant for the government, not for the people .

    Austerity does not mean cutting front line services but cutting away whole unnecessary departments and at the fat tissue that exists in the Civil Service and doing it fast.

    People have every right to vote against austerity when the largess of government was responsible for the problem and every right to refuse to pick up the tab.

    This site and participants have focussed on many areas where the government might cut without causing a political fallout, but the government continue with their slow and painfully complacent attitude to the cuts.

    Camerons call for faster cuts is laughable. The man should be told he is no longer in oppositionto and to get a grip on events .

  36. Barbara
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    You can see a pattern emerging, countries are defying Germany and Euroland, they are demanding to rule themselves and will not have people hoisted up on them, it should be a warning to the likes of Merkel and Barroso. You cannot inflict upon nations people who are not elected, its counter to democracy. I hope they can form some sort of coalition, but it does not look to hopeful. There are parties errupting in several countries who are against the EU, and they are gaining popularity. UKIP was ridiculed here several years ago and now may be a force to be reckoned with; any fool can be rude and off hand but when the votes cast are in the latters favour heads being to twitch.
    We, like Italy, don’t want to be ruled by anyone else but ourselves, yet MPs continually ignore our requests for a referendum and offer one in the next parliament they may not win. That is bad democracy in motion. A nation that demands to be heard should be heard, if any party cannot give its people that it deserves to be ignored at the ballot box. Italy as shown what can happen, it causes more turmoil than not holding a vote. Cameron refuses to hold one before the next election, an election he’s on stream to lose, he should ask himself why? Conservatives have lost the plot, where once they had good ideas based on fairness, openess, and democracy, now they’ve joined mainsteam and stopped the above. Its a pity they are allowing one man to deviate from all they are traditionally known for.

  37. Credible
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    I heard that the EU was responsible for the meteorite crash in Russia. They won’t stop at anything that lot.

    John, you constantly argue that we should have big cuts in public spending and then argue that the Italian people are right to complain about cuts in public spending. That seems like mixed-up thinking.
    Their current situation in the EU is not good but how would leaving the EU get them out of the mess?

    Reply: The Italian public deficit is much lower than the UK one, and the cuts in Italy are bigger than the UK. The Italian economy is performing worse than the UK. The cuts in spending I want – things like withdrawing our troops from Afghanistan, spending less on overseas aid and changing eligibility for UK free services and benefits for new arrivals – would be popular cuts.

  38. James Barr
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Politicians hate it when the ‘sheeple’ disagree with them. Just listen to the howls of anguish from the EU bureaucats about the election in Italy They hate it even more when their outrageous taxpayer-funded lifestyle is threatened. In Italy, La Casta enjoys a champagne lifestyle. I think you will see the growth of a sister movement in Spain, where people are outraged at the daily revelations concerning those that ‘govern’. It’s about time. The days of career politicians has to end. Here’s some ideas for the UK. Rip up Tolleys, introduce a flat tax for individuals and businesses, and limit MPs’ to a max of two terms.

  39. They Work for Us
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    The election result in Italy and the steady rise of UKIP should be the “writing on the wall” for our politicians. Many are viewed as incompetent, dishonest in some cases and not representing what their electors want.

    If they ignore it then many incumbents will lose their seats to another party as UKIP bleed their own support away.

    A UKIP win tomorrow would be the best kick in the backside to the political establishment that one could hope for. The possibility of losing your seat at the next election should concentrate MPs minds wonderfully.

  40. Terry
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    The EU has been described by many of the commentors in the Daily Newspapers as a Stalinist or USSR State. That title is accurate by the fact that (a senior EU official) was (is) a member of the communist party and he still pursues communist policies that damage our Nations.

    What is Great Britain, a once totally committed to democracy, nation, doing, taking orders from an unelected Communist group? The near 50 years Cold War was about keeping communism out of our democracies yet, successive UK political leaders, maintain their subservience to them in Brussels. WHY? WHY? WHY?

    ‘Just wot have these communists ever done for us’? Bring back the Romans, please!

  41. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    Still it is good to hear that other nations are afeared of the bundesbank in this huge financial war where double think and speak is becoming the norm for controllers and gen public alike.

  42. Leslie Singleton
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    So Grillo didn’t even stand himself, so I have just read, and very definitely he wasn’t on some list selected by some Cameron look-alike in some wretched Central Office. Sounds like a very fine fellow indeed to me and if he can make people laugh, so much the better.

  43. Bazman
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    The main question not asked is what will all this do to house prices in Tuscany?

  44. Jono Whitney
    Posted February 28, 2013 at 2:10 am | Permalink

    Spot on. Italy are hugely in debt, give the EU loads of money. This is just not working out. However the uncertainty is not good for markets across the world.

  45. uanime5
    Posted February 28, 2013 at 2:15 am | Permalink

    The Italian budget deficit is under better control than many.

    That’s what happens when you have technocrats with economic experience running the country.

    Mr Monti was parachuted in as Prime Minister by the EU although he had not been elected.

    Though he was appointed to the upper house and made Prime Minister by the President of Italy.

    He replaced Mr Berlusconi, who was making Eurosceptic noises and beginning to represent the dislike of EU austerity policies felt by many voters.

    Mr Berlusconi was also responsible for many of the economic problems in Italy, was more concerned about his new album than the economy of Italy, and once feel asleep in an EU meeting about the best way to help Italy. I suspect these are probably why he was replaced.

    Instead Mr Berlusconi, mildly Eurosceptic, and the 5 Star party of Mr Grillo polled more than half the votes. Mr Grillo campaigned against politicians, and in favour of a referendum on withdrawal from the Euro.

    That’s what happens when you live in a country that uses PR and every vote counts. I expect that’s also why there was a 75% turnout (considered low by Italian standards).

    Regarding a euro referendum I doubt this will go ahead as leaving the euro means Italy is unlikely to be bailed out if something goes wrong.

    They are telling the Italian people they just have to knuckle down and do as the EU and Euro authorities say. The public may not have an immediate and better answer, but is not surprising they are demanding that their politicians find one.

    Given that the Greeks haven’t found an alternative I doubt the Italians will.

    • A different Simon
      Posted February 28, 2013 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

      I agree with you that appointed professional technocrats do a better job of running things than amateurs elected by the populace .

      Absolutely , 100% .

      Are the operational improvements gained by having an appointed executive of technocrats worth sacrificing the peoples ability to remove technocrats they don’t like ?

      Reply Do you think the technocracts who gave us the ERM, or the ones who regulated the banks prior to 2007, did a good job?

  46. Bazman
    Posted February 28, 2013 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    Boris Johnson putting forward without any irony that someone with a number of homes valued at 1.9 million will be totally hard done by as someone with one pricey home over 2 million would not have to pay additional taxes. Now that is comical when the rest of the population are facing a tightening up for living in a council flat and having a spare room.
    Grillo is standing up against this sort of thing. The elite running the country for the elite. It’s surprising that more Italians didn’t vote for him and we are heading in the same direction.

  47. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted March 3, 2013 at 2:21 am | Permalink

    Why is Mr Grillo so relucant to form a short term coalition with Silvio Berlusconi’s allies? Together, they have a majority of the popular vote and it is his best hope for leaving the Eurozone.

    Reply I suspect Mr Grillo is a man of permanent protest who does not wish to have to make the compromises Coalition and being in power force on anyone trying it. As many in the UK realise, being in permanent opposition enables you to have the perfect answers which never have to be tested by reality or by the difficulty of getting them through.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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