Comments on: Counterparties: Italy’s protest vote A slice of lime in the soda Sun, 26 Oct 2014 19:05:02 +0000 hourly 1 By: FifthDecade Thu, 28 Feb 2013 01:25:12 +0000 Well, there’s the small matter of the €100 million post electoral “expenses reimbursement” Beppe Grillo’s party are eligible for but have refused to take – and then the 15 MPs in Sicily who instead of taking the standard salary of €10,700 a month are taking only €2,500 a month, thereby saving over €7 million between them over the course of a five year legislature.

With a debt of more than 120% of GDP why aren’t the politicians from the other parties making similar sacrifices? They get paid twice as much as French and British legislators, and four times as much as Spanish ones – why? OK, if you compare them to US Congress and Senate salaries of over $170,000 they are smaller – but why do the US salaries need to be so high as well? It’s not like such salaries keep them away from the hands of the lobbyists and special interest groups…

By: TimWorstall Wed, 27 Feb 2013 10:03:18 +0000 “Hmm, I guess the UK isn’t so democratic then since you can’t be an MP there if you have a criminal record.”

Not actually true.

A sitting MP who is sentenced to more than a year (actually, the language is “detained” so this might include on remand as well) loses their seat.

But a criminal record either from before election, a spent conviction, or even a conviction to a sentence of less than one year while sitting, does not bar one from being an MP.

It might make election as one difficult, but that’s up to the voters, not the law.

And it must, obviously, be this way. Thinking of the number of former protestors who have made it into the House it would simply boggle the mind that none of them have a conviction for trespass or public order offences.

By: Frwip Wed, 27 Feb 2013 00:25:00 +0000 @FifthDecade

Nope. Sorry. It’s up to the voters. The people is the sole and supreme sovereign as they say (well, except may be in the UK, but I’m on the other side of the big pond). If they want to elect crooks, they’ll get crooks.

Now, what you harp about is not eligibility but the grant of immunity that comes with the office. It’s an obsolete leftover from monarchical notions about the exercise of power (see ‘Sovereign Immunity’) and yes, it should go.

By: FifthDecade Wed, 27 Feb 2013 00:21:38 +0000 @realist50 I agree with much of what you say, particularly the lack of structural reforms. Go back ten years or so and everyone was screaming at teh Germans to undertake structural reforms – and they did. Now they are benefitting from having gone through the changeover, but the countries which you mention have avoided structural reforms and simply blame the Euro.

It’s interesting to note that in Italy, Beppe Grillo’s party has just turned down €100 million in post-election campaign “expenses” which they would legally be entitled to. The other parties have once more dropped their snouts into the trough and sucked up as much of the money as they can. You can see how quickly establishment Italy burns money.

The largesse in the Italian system is pernicious and kills off enterprise and sucks money out of the economy. Did you know that Italy spends more on chauffeur driven cars for officials than it does on the arts? Or that Italian politicians are paid FOUR TIMES what their Spanish counterparts are paid? Organised crime accounts for 10% of GDP, and that doesn’t include tax avoidance or the cost of nepotism.

As for it being hard to sack people, that isn’t entirely accurate. There are two kinds of jobs, most people have what are described as “temporary” jobs and can be sacked at any time; far fewer have “permanent” jobs which really are.

Italy also has a very big North-South divide, with working women in the North being about as common as they are in the UK at 67%, but at levels two to three times higher than exist in the south which brings the rate down to the lowest in Europe. Educationally only 19% of young people go to University. That’s such a lot of waste – some estimate just getting more women into work would grow the economy by 10% of GDP.

The country is a mess, yet has so much potential, it’s a tragedy.

By: realist50 Tue, 26 Feb 2013 22:57:58 +0000 The difference is that it’s much easier to be confident that the UK judiciary is independent and honest.

In Italy, like Greece and to some degree Spain and Portugal, the fiscal situation is merely the symptom of far deeper issues. Labor and product markets are over regulated – too hard to start businesses, too many protected guilds and cartels, and too tough to fire workers. There’s the all too familiar mix of tax evasion and corruption that often goes hand in hand with too much regulation. The fact that Krugman rarely (if ever) mentions the structural problems of Greece and Italy astounds me. Fiscal policy is secondary in both those countries to fixing underlying structural problems. As it stands today, even in a hypothetical world where those nations’ public debt vanished with no repercussions, those countries would end up where they are today in 1 to 2 generations.

By: FifthDecade Tue, 26 Feb 2013 21:49:08 +0000 @Frwip Hmm, I guess the UK isn’t so democratic then since you can’t be an MP there if you have a criminal record. But hey, let’s not worry about crime, corruption, tax fraud; just let Italy borrow more money from the Germans, dole it out to Berlusconi’s and Craxi’s pals, and line your own nest at the expense of the country, the Euro, the EU and the world economy.

You, sir, are part of the problem.

By: Frwip Tue, 26 Feb 2013 20:52:58 +0000 ” One of Grillo’s policies which surely nobody honest could disagree with is simply that nobody should be eligible to represent Italians in Parliament if they have a criminal record. ”

That policy would put the decision of who can and cannot run in the hands of the judiciary, which is an eminently corruptible institution, just like any other. It would become very easy to neutralize troublemakers on trumped up charges tried in the courts of pliant judges. Not only this policy is not a guarantee of anything but it would create a strong positive incentive for corrupt cliques to work their way in the judiciary.

Very, very bad idea.

By: FifthDecade Tue, 26 Feb 2013 12:59:41 +0000 He’s also just lost his case against tax fraud, which is under appeal. IIRC the appeal hearings haven’t been heard yet so if Berlusconi gets Prime Ministerial immunity from prosecution before he goes to jail, he’ll have accomplished his main goal in this election. He cares not one jot about Italy, only so much as it provides him with what he wants.

By: TimWorstall Tue, 26 Feb 2013 10:48:43 +0000 “This has been an election which featured an ex-prime minister who’s about to face trial for allegedly having sex with an underage night-club dancer.”

Not sure that’s entirely right. She was over age but underage to be professional at it. If it was a free shag then there’s no crime. If it was a cash arrangement then, well,……

By: FifthDecade Tue, 26 Feb 2013 01:20:51 +0000 You do your readers and Beppo Grillo a disservice by describing him as running an “anti-system” platform – it’s really an anti-abuse platform. While he has worked as a satirist, he qualified first as an accountant and correctly forecast the bankruptcy of Italian Multinational Parmalat.

Grillo’s approximately 19% of the vote comes after years of being banned from spreading his clean up politics message on Italian TV because first of all Berlusconi was fighting for immunity against prosecution for tax fraud and owned most of the TV stations and didn’t like being told he was bent, while those TV stations that weren’t controlled by Berlusconi were controlled by the left who Grillo had also attacked for their endemic bribery and corruption.

As for Monti, he has been at every turn stymied by Berlusconi from behind the scenes, and many of the reforms have not made it through the legislative process. If we in the Anglo-Saxon world are looking for a partner in Italy, Beppe Grillo is probably the cleanest of the lot and is likely to want to clean up Italian politics. He once made a joke that the most crime ridden part of Naples, a district that holds the record for the highest crime rate in Europe, was surpassed at the time by the criminality in the Italian Parliament.

One of Grillo’s policies which surely nobody honest could disagree with is simply that nobody should be eligible to represent Italians in Parliament if they have a criminal record, but both the left and the right are against this, calling him a dangerous anti-establishment troublemaker. It will be interesting to see what happens now he may have earned the role of King maker…