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Accueil > Uncategorised > Mariage à l’italienne : En Italie, l’insensée « alliance Ursula » contre (...)

Mariage à l’italienne : En Italie, l’insensée « alliance Ursula » contre Salvini... risque d’assurer sa victoire

jeudi 22 août 2019, par siawi3

Source : https://www.marianne.net/politique/en-italie-l-insensee-alliance-ursula-contre-salvini-risque-d-assurer-sa-victoire?_ope=eyJndWlkIjoiZWU1YTU1MWQyNmQzMmYxMmE0MzMyZDY4NmJjYmFiMmUifQ%3D%3D

Au plus fort dans les sondages, Matteo Salvini a tout intérêt à provoquer des élections anticipées en Italie. L’alliance « Ursula » vise à l’en empêcher.

Au plus fort dans les sondages, Matteo Salvini a tout intérêt à provoquer des élections anticipées en Italie. L’alliance « Ursula » vise à l’en empêcher. - AFP

Mariage à l’italienne
En Italie, l’insensée « alliance Ursula » contre Salvini... risque d’assurer sa victoire

Par Franck Dedieu et Ariel F. Dumont

Publié le 22/08/2019 à 15:20

Une union anti-Salvini se prépare autour du Parti Démocrate et du Mouvement 5 étoiles qui aurait pour patronyme… Ursula, le prénom de la présidente de la Commission européenne. Une telle initiative ferait plutôt les affaires du leader de la Ligue.

Au début, la presse italienne l’a surnommée « la grande ammucchiata », la grande mêlée, mais désormais tout le monde parle de « l’alliance Ursula », du nom (ou plutôt du prénom) de la nouvelle présidente de la Commission européenne. Il s’agirait pourtant d’une alliance purement italienne entre le Parti démocrate et le Mouvement 5 étoiles dans le but de contrer la Ligue de Matteo Salvini et d’éviter des élections anticipées après l’explosion du gouvernement italien.

Vieille recette indigeste

L’inventeur du concept à la sonorité plus avenante s’appelle… Romano Prodi. Une figure de la politique transalpine au CV long comme le Tibre : ancien président de la Commission européenne, ancien président du Conseil, ancien ministre de l’Industrie. Et l’homme s’y connaît en « combinazione ». Il avait réussi en 1995 à regrouper tous les partis de gauche et les centristes sous un seul drapeau, l’Olivier, pour tenter de battre Silvio Berlusconi. Aujourd’hui, l’ex-président du Conseil et ancien haut fonctionnaire bruxellois propose d’appliquer à nouveau cette recette pour le moins piquante pour essayer d’isoler Matteo Salvini et éviter une confrontation électorale pouvant s’avérer mortelle pour les adversaires du patron de la Ligue, selon les derniers sondages. Il propose de rassembler cette fois-ci tous les partis ayant voté pour la nouvelle présidente de la Commission européenne Ursula von der Leyen : les 5 étoiles, dont l’apport a été décisif pour l’élection bruxelloise de l’ancienne ministre de la Défense allemande, les démocrates et pourquoi pas Forza Italia. Cette nouvelle alliance qui aurait largement la majorité au Sénat, entendrait former un gouvernement, éviter des élections anticipées et ainsi le sacre de Matteo Salvini.

Mise sous tutelle ?

Mais, comme souvent en Italie, les additions parlementaires ne suffisent pas à imposer une réalité politique. Evidemment, ces partis pensent différemment au chapitre de l’économie et de l’écologie mais surtout, leur coalition pourrait bien produire le résultat inverse à celui escompté. Au lieu de désarmer le leader de la Ligue, l’ « alliance Ursula » lui donnerait des armes nouvelles. D’abord, celle de l’indépendance nationale. Porter l’estampille de l’actuelle présidente de la Commission par ailleurs ancienne ministre allemande - « Ursula » - pour faire passer la pilule auprès de Bruxelles, et par là-même un budget 2020 en préparation, peut légèrement heurter la sensibilité d’un pays, soucieux de conserver sa souveraineté politique.

Technocratie froide

« L’alliance Ursula » pourrait même sonner comme une forme de mise sous tutelle sinon de jure du moins de facto. De quoi servir sur un plateau à Salvini cette fameuse citation de Cicéron : « La liberté ne consiste pas à avoir un bon maître, mais à n’en point avoir ». Le leader de la Ligue en a rajouté une couche, toujours avec l’aide du célèbre rhéteur latin :« Je ne veux pas d’une Italie esclave de qui que ce soit, je ne veux pas de chaînes, pas de longues chaînes ». L’idée de recourir à Ursula ou du moins à son patronyme paraît donc du plus mauvais effet. Et la personnalité de Romano Prodi, démiurge de ladite alliance, n’arrange rien. L’ancien économiste incarne une forme de technocratie froide et formatée acquise aux canons de la rigueur bruxelloise… à l’origine de la montée en puissance de Salvini. Le tout, sans résultats probants. Président du Conseil entre mai 2006 et mai 2008, il ne peut guère se prévaloir d’un brillant bilan. Au cours de son mandat, sur la foi des chiffres publiés par l’OCDE, la croissance de la richesse italienne (PIB) a augmenté en moyenne de 0,19% par trimestre, un rythme presque trois fois inférieur à celui de la zone euro. « C’est le propre de l’homme de se tromper, seul l’insensé persiste dans son erreur », philosophait un certain Cicéron.

°°°

Source : https://unherd.com/2019/07/how-italys-populists-keep-power/?tl_inbound=1&tl_groups[0]=18743&tl_period_type=3

Photo : Matteo Salvini tours the asylum seeker and migrants reception centre in Sicily. Credit : Andreas Solaro / Getty

Flyover country
How Italy’s populists keep power

Salvini’s League uses anti-immigrant rhetoric as a distraction

Andrea Capussela

16 July 2019

Matteo Salvini’s League, the party that dominates Italy’s ruling coalition, is often described as nationalist and anti-establishment – much like the populist Right throughout Europe. But while the first epithet is correct, the second isn’t. The League is very much a party of the status quo ; its priority is the preservation not of Italy’s culture or traditions, but of its unfair and inefficient social order, or politico-economic equilibrium.

That’s not to say that the League’s xenophobia is insincere or negligible. In 2000, its activists herded a dozen pigs into the field where a Muslim community planned to build a mosque, for example, and three years later its founder – Umberto Bossi, then minister for institutional reform – advocated using artillery against boats carrying migrants to Italy’s coasts. After the third warning, he said, “I want to hear the roar of cannons”.

Salvini’s recent policies against NGO rescue operations seem mild in comparison. But these aren’t especially deeply felt : they are tactics employed to muster support from the majority of voters whose interests, meanwhile, are being damaged by the League’s real priorities. Indeed, its rhetoric has changed in tune with the anxieties and opportunities of the period.

Before immigration rose in the 1990s, its scapegoat (when it was exclusively a party of the North) was southerners, whom it denounced as lazy welfare recipients ; before it was nationalist, the party was federalist and fleetingly secessionist ; before it was fervently Catholic, it staged elaborate rituals to honour the river that crosses the peninsula’s northern plain, the Po.

The only constants are the scapegoating and its relentless effort to cast itself as at one with the man in the street.

This serves a strategy whose main pillar is keeping the rule of law weak. Karla Hoff and Joseph Stiglitz defined this notion as “what stops the few from stealing from the many” ; the League uses demagogy to distract the many while the few steal from them. And this is the real danger the party poses.

In Italy, average real incomes are roughly at the level they were in 1995 – in France, Germany and Spain they are about 25% higher – and political discontent is intense and widespread. The primary cause of this malaise is not the euro but stagnant productivity growth, which began to decline well before the establishment of the common currency.

Italy’s large public debt is itself a manifestation of that problem. Its roots lie in a politico-economic equilibrium that hinders innovation, competition and creative destruction, which are crucial drivers of productivity growth and prosperity. Low political accountability and a weak rule of law are the main traits ; clientelism and illegality its clearest manifestations. Tax evasion is between two and three times higher than in France, Germany, or Spain, for example, and corruption is at levels typical of the Balkans.

Italy is an open democracy, served by an economy – which has Europe’s second largest manufacturing sector – that reliably produces healthy current account surpluses. But its social order is markedly less efficient and fair than its peers’ : to protect the country’s elites, it constrains the opportunities of ordinary citizens and firms, raises inequality, and dampens the country’s potential.

In order to shore up this unbalanced system, Italy’s governments acquired the consensus of elements of society by granting them certain political and economic privileges. These particularistic policies accumulated over decades, may have made the social order more inclusive. But they reduced the efficiency of public expenditure and prevented the development of a genuinely universal welfare system, which economies based on competition and innovation require.

This equilibrium and the political establishment that presided over it were shaken in 1992–4, mightily, by a currency crisis and vast corruption investigations. The equilibrium stabilised, thanks to greater budget discipline ; but the political establishment collapsed and rapidly dissolved.

The League flourished then, as the fiercest opponent of that establishment – which it described, correctly, as corrupt, collusive, and unaccountable. It gained almost 9% of the vote in 1992, an extraordinary result in Italy’s ossified 1948–92 party system. Yet, in 1991, the party had opposed a referendum that sought precisely to increase political accountability, and a few weeks after its electoral success it approached one of Italy’s largest firms, which was illegally financing the establishment parties, and duly received its own undisclosed contribution.

Its 1992 manifesto – mixing hostility to Rome and the South with threats of tax revolt and secession – was a direct response to the rising tax burden. It argued that the North should keep its own money, and found support among those regions’ professionals, self-employed workers, small entrepreneurs, and their employees. This became the League’s core electorate, and that manifesto barely changed until the 2010s.

In 1994, the League allied with Silvio Berlusconi, who inherited the priorities and electorate of the old establishment. It supported each of his cabinets – 1994, 2001–6, 2008–11 – and each of their worst policies, including repeated amnesties for tax evasion and a long line of laws whose main aim or effect was to increase impunity for corruption.

Italy’s politico-economic equilibrium was to become less stable because the fiscal space for lifting growth through public spending, to compensate stagnating productivity, and for securing consensus, had been severely reduced. Indeed, Berlusconi’s last government was felled by the European sovereign debt crisis (which threatened the survival of the Eurozone).

Mario Monti’s 2011–13 ‘technocratic’ cabinet, which implemented emergency austerity measures, relied on Berlusconi’s and the centre-Left’s support. The League, alone in opposition, benefited from the fact that those harsh policies, which had contributed to avoiding a catastrophe, soon became unpopular. Under a weak and confused leadership, however, crushed by grave corruption scandals, the League suffered a stiff electoral defeat in 2013.

Salvini inherited a party in ruins. But he could capitalise on its opposition to austerity, to recast the party as an anti-establishment one, and nimbly discarded separatism in favour of nationalism, to expand its support beyond the North. The 2013–18 centre-Left governments did little to either raise growth or make it more inclusive, and Five Star and the League won the 2018 elections by promising cultural and economic protection to those left behind by globalisation.

In office, however, the League pushed policies that went directly against their interests. It granted a special pension scheme to certain cohorts of workers ; it obtained a tax cut for professionals and small entrepreneurs, and demands a yet more generous one ; it won a tax-evasion amnesty, wants another one, and proposes to abolish all limits to the use of cash, which will further ease tax evasion ; and it defended tooth and nail two junior ministers accused of corruption and embezzlement.

The League is now the main – though not the sole – guarantor of Italy’s equilibrium. It picked up from Berlusconi the standard of favouring vested interests and tolerance for illegality, and inherited much of his electorate. What changed, compared with the period of Berlusconi’s dominance, is that xenophobia is more readily turning from rhetoric into deeds.

This mix worked remarkably well at the European elections in May. It resembles what happened in Hungary, and in other regimes characterised by the combination of corruption and demagogic nationalism (which could be better described as multi-party kleptocracies than illiberal democracies, as Branko Milanović has argued).

In Italy’s better-governed democracy, however, that combination generates greater tensions, which are a permanent source of instability. It’s why the more predatory the League’s policies are, the louder its rhetoric must be. But the xenophobia is a distraction. That’s why those who wish to oppose the League will be ineffective if they simply decry the xenophobia without mentioning the perversion of the rule of law.

Andrea Lorenzo Capussela is the author of ‘The Political Economy of Italy’s Decline’ (Oxford University Press, 2018)