No matter which party wins — if there is a clear winner — Italy and the Eurozone will be the losers in the country’s election for a new government.
There is no party, in the poll that is under way, which has a realistic plan to tackle the country’s economic woes. More worrying, there is none that will likely achieve a majority large enough to offer Italy the political stability necessary to find a solution to the crisis. Whatever the outcome, the markets are likely to be roiled, creating the danger of renewed, unaffordable, turmoil in Eurozone financial markets.
The best outcome would be a coalition that can continue the economic and social reforms of the incumbent prime minister, Mario Monti, who is lagging in the polls. He has been implementing an austerity programme designed to make Italy’s debt manageable and increase its economic competitiveness. The campaign divisions between Monti and possible allies have been deep, but it is be hoped that, once the election is over, common sense and the interests of the country, will prevail.
It is unlikely that any of the other parties strongly in the running will force Italians to take the bitter economic medicine they need to swallow after decades of over-indulgence. The Five Star Movement is quite literally a joke, run by a popular comedian who has the support of many disaffected. And, it will be a joke if the scandal-plagued Silvio Berlusconi is re-elected. Italy looks set to remain the sickest man in the economic asylum that is Europe.