Friday, March 1, 2013

Italian Election results, 2013... A deja vu!!

It is the talk of the week! The Italian elections have rocked Europe and sent shocks across the continent and the Markets. The result was much feared, but expected.

Mario Monti's party failed to gain any significant support, while more populist parties like the comedian's Beppe Grillo's 5 Star Movement, thrashed to the third place with 25% of the votes.

It has brought political uncertainty back to the Euro-zone and it may have even contributed to the recent volatility in the global financial markets.

The results show that  in the Italian Chamber of Deputies, the hopeful and favorite of the European elites Mr. Mario Monti and his Centrist Coalition, just got 10.4% of the votes. The Centre-left coalition of Mr. Bersani got 32%, while Mr Berlusconi made a come-back with his Centre-right coalition and 26.6% of the votes. The Five Star Movement of Mr. Grillo came third party with 25.6%.

Similar results the parties had for the Italian Senate. These elections may have sparked a period of uncertainty and instability for Italy and ultimately Europe, but it is not the first time that European people chose to give a message to their leaders, by voting for outsiders in their national elections.

In Greece we saw a similar drama unfolding recently, with people moving away from the established political parties that the European elites preferred, only to give their votes for the far right and far left. The rise of SYRIZA gave the same shivers down the spine of many European elites and EU officials, while the rise of the Golden Dawn echoes similar events in Germany seven decades ago.

So why don't the European elites ever learn? The European people are responding to our leaders actions, with the only weapon they have: their votes. The citizens are fed up with austerity, especially when they have to endure years of it so that the banks and the financial establishment can be saved.

Judging from what I had experienced from family confessions in Greece, a large part who voted for the Golden Dawn party, did so in protest. Some people admitted doing so and gave as reasons various facts. When all other parties used money to print brochures for their electoral campaigns, in a time that many Greek schools did not have money to print books for the children, the only party who did not send brochures was the Golden Dawn party.

They gained votes among the ordinary folk, by just doing what the established parties have never thought of doing so; being considerate. You see, populism works in dire times as these we are living. The Italians voted with the same mind frame and we see the results. They reject the continuous austerity and voted in parties that promised some relief, no matter if they will be able to keep their promises. 

But the danger here for Europe or the euro is not the Italian people, or Grillo and Berslusconi. The real danger are our national politicians that are happy to play with the fortunes and future of their people plus that of Europe, in order to satisfy their need to stay in power for longer. By making sure they promote policies that please those who finance their political careers, not those who vote for them and give them the power to create those policies.

The Greeks, the French and now the Italians are making clear their dissatisfaction with the continuous austerity imposed on them and their desire for change. Some of the European elite politicians are not amused.

Mr. Peer Steinbrueck, a former finance minister and challenger of Mrs Merkel's position in the upcoming German elections, said he was "appalled that two clowns have won" and made it clear he was referring to Grillo and to Berlusconi, calling the latter "clearly a clown with a testosterone boost".

I am sure he is not the only one who has these views. But perhaps the real "clowns" are the established politicians, that have the nerve to ignore the wishes and needs of the people. They failed them once by pushing their countries into this crisis and promoting irresponsible policies. Now they are failing them for the second time by ignoring their calls on lifting the tough austerity and their need for real, long lasting solutions. 

So here come the populist politicians like Grillo or Tsipras that  just say what people want to hear, in order to gain votes. What are they going to do in reality, if they are really able to do or change anything is another matter. But I do not blame the people for voting for them, they are desperate. So why not vote for a real comedian, a "clown" as Mr. Steinbrueck called Mr Brillo, than vote for the clowns that so far were ruling them?

Personally I hoped that Mr Berlusconi never made a comeback in Italian or European politics. He is a major factor in why Italy's economy is in the state it is at the moment, how can the Italians vote him back in power? Well the Italians are not alone in this tragic mistake. 

Recent polls in Ireland too, show that the Fianna Fail party tops the popularity polls. The same party that drove the Irish economy from being one of the most successful to one of the troubled in Europe. People in desperation for change and fed up with austerity are ready to vote back parties, or bring in new ones that are clearly not the best choice. 

Is this a sign of a deeper European crisis, that is not confined just in its economy? If we are lacking of politicians with a vision, but also respect for the people and solutions to their problems. If our leaders answer to the global financiers rather their voters, then Europe is indeed in trouble.

And when people like Berlusconi are propelled into prominent positions, is a clear manifestation of Europe's political, social and financial decline. Perhaps we need parties like the 5 Star Movement in the end, who advocate the end of "career politics" and the limitation of how many terms can a politician be elected. Possibly the solution in Europe's political crisis, will come from populism in the end!

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