Italia irredenta! Italy sails away…

Italia irredenta! Italy sails away…

After Brexit and the very high result of the FPÖ at the Austrian referendum (more than 47%), the slap in the face represented by the failure of the Italian referendum, creates huge uncertainties for the European Union. The awful “populists” have wind in the sails… They are the eurosceptical parties, such as Beppe Grillo’s M5S in Italy, the FPÖ in Austria, the British UKIP, the Rassemblement bleu Marine in France, the German AfD, the Belgian Parti Populaire and the other parties which are members of the Alliance for Direct Democracy in Europe (ADDE)… The president of the European Commission, Juncker speaks somberly of the “divorce between the citizens and their elites”. Good analysis, Jean-Claude!

In Italy, it is ununderstandable that the clever politician, tactician of the old school, but nevertheless young president of the Council, Matteo Renzi has not seen the opposition building up. His referendum for a state reform has transformed itself into and anti-establishment, anti-Europe, anti-Renzi referendum.

The personal defeat of Matteo Renzi opens a wide avenue to “populists” such as Grillo or the League. For most observers, the main causes of rejection are the effects of the huge migratory crisis upon public opinion, the unemployment rate above 10% and even 40% among youngsters, but also the austerity, imposed by the European Union to its member states. Renzi has tried to be smarter, by criticizing Brussels while applying the policies imposed by the Union.

Why on earth has he linked his personal fate to the referendum? Did he actually want to leave? Incredible. His failure means in every instance a black period for the Italian economy and for Europe, with 8 large Italian banks on the verge of bankrupcy, a stagnating economy, an intolerable debt, threatening to grow automatically as soon as inflation reappears.

Démission de Renzi après le "NON" au Référendum.
Renzi’s resignation after the referendum.

Matteo Renzi has tried to defend the Italians, attacking the president of the Commission, Juncker – who is known for his unease with referenda. What is at stake is the budget flexibility and the different treatments applied by the Commission to the Northern historical pillars of Europe, versus the “PIGS” in the South. “Italy deserves respect” has Renzi said to the Commission in January 2016, after having obtained a more supple approach of the budget balance. Renzi had then attacked Angela Merkel, accused of blocking the project of guarantee for the deposits, which could save the moribund Italian banks.

The president of the Council had also obtained some concessions from Brussels: a gift of 0.4% of GDP and a supplement of 0.2% of more deficit tolerated to face the “migratory urgencies”. But in exchange, Matteo Renzi had promised to apply the structural reforms and the austerity demanded by Brussels. Heck!

Now it is Italexit that threatens the cohesion of Europe… The third economy of the EURO zone threatens the three-pronged Europe that we know: Council – Commission – Parliament. Renzi has tried to reform the constitution, to reduce the prerogatives of the Senate and to blow up bicameralism, provinces and regions. He failed. The populists ask for elections. Renzi will probably last technically, the time it will take to pass the budget, and then basta. It is the crisis that all Eurocrats fear. Their pretentious attitude has taken a blow lately…