Friday, May 26, 2017

Italy, the Sick Man of Europe

France’s labor markets and productivity are a mess and one of President Macron’s biggest challenges. But, Italy’s are even worse, and there is no sense the politics of the next election will offer a solution.
Italy’s anti-establishment nationalism is intense. Most of the public in Europe support the Euro despite anti-Euro nationalism. Only in Italy does a plurality of the public see the Euro as bad (47%) for the country, not good (41%).

Slow growth, high unemployment, massive debt, low productivity, rigid labor, trade and professional rules, and a general dissatisfaction with the center parties gave birth to the Five Star Movement of comedian Beppe Grillo. The so-called party is mostly run as an online movement, but in 2016, it won the mayorships in Rome and Turin. It often looks more like a Bernie Sanders caucus meeting than a national party. But, there is passion and an anti-corruption, protectionist platform that appeals to Italian workers, businesses and dissatisfied voters. At 30 percent support, it is currently Italy’s largest political bloc.
Italy is currently run by an interim government since the constitutional reform referendum of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi failed in December and he resigned. A mid-2018 election is likely, and unless one of the major party groupings can get organized, Five Star could be asked to form a government.

Beppe Grillo, found of the Five Star Movement and Rome’s Mayor
Virginia Raggi during a demonstration in November | Gregorio Borgia/AP

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