A new year has started and the soap opera about the future of Italy has never known a moment of dullness. While recent and brand new parties prepare themselves to enter the political arena and score some points at the February elections, the old ones continue to fight according to century-old schemes. Mr. Berlusconi is far from being dead and his resurrection on tv screens and on the political arena is as powerful and comic as a children tale. Young people say it’s over for him but then they are very reluctant to consider a second term for Mr. Monti who casted a gloom over their future by talking taxes, reality and debt. On the left side there is not much to hope for after the (insane) decision to present a 60-something candidate, well acquainted with the old system instead of the bright young mayor of Florence. So small, new parties are taking their chance. The most popular among expats (but still far from being popular among average voters) is called Fermare il Declino and features an extravagant-looking journalist as leader and a number of economists, academics, intellectuals and thinkers as candidates. Many of them live or have lived extensively abroad and are enthusiastic reformers. Their ideas sound perfectly good and I hope they’ll get a chance to sit in Parliament but I ask myself if academics, knowledge of the world and goodwill will be enough to change a country that doesn’t want to change, deep down.
Italians are romantics, can be lazy and, most of all, are jealous and proud (what a dangerous combination).
They like to think they live in the best country in the world, they adore to think that Italy really matters on the international scene and are deeply convinced that foreign powers actually listen to the Italian prime minister (whoever he is) before taking world-changing decisions. I am not being cynical, just take a tour in an italian gym changing room and you’ll hear extremely revealing conversations. Such a beautiful country, rich of art and big breasted (and lip-augmented, since the Berlusconi-era) brunettes – they believe – can’t but solicite envy from other less fortunate lands.
Being part of this beautiful and unique setting means following its rules and one of the main ones (as previously discussed) is that age brings wisdom and that before a certain age it is advisable not to shine too much. A smart friend told me that people didn’t vote for the 37 years old mayor of Florence as the left party candidate because they were actually jealous of him. “They probably thought – he said – that he didn’t deserve such an impressing career. If he’s prime minister at 37, then what are they?”. I believe there is some truth in this argument.
But then pride poses some other problems. Times are tough, Italians know that now even if they’d rather not. What they don’t like is being told so by someone who apparently doesn’t share any of their weaknesses. Mr. Monti is an understated, well-to-do and internationally appreciated economist. He looks to the public as boring as his pinstripe suits. He has a wife and not a single known affair. He doesn’t own a boat, spends his (short) holidays on a middle-class beach with his family and likes to travel by train. Italians can’t stand that someone like the Professor gets up one day and tells them to stop living their flamboyant lives (real or even imagined). That is why on Facebook I assist to this exhilarating conversations between Italian expats (all for Monti, when not for Fermare il Declino) and Italian residents.
“We gotta get rid of that guy”, say the last.
“He’s the only chance you have for a decent future”, say the first.
and they keep on arguing.
I’ll just sit down and watch, for now.