Friday, December 14, 2012

Monti Enthroned in Brussels--Vendola Sent Home to Puglia--Berlusconi Gets a Time-Out

Just two quick vignettes today, as every politician in Italy worth his salt postures as though his life depended on it, and the papers are full of gossip.

 Far beyond gossip, though is the sublime article in today's Charlemagne, describing the scene yesterday in Brussels at the PPE party summit. This is a grand affair, grandly staged in the Académie Royale de Belgique, and attended by a who's who of the European center right: Madame Merkel to be sure, Presidents Barroso and van Rompuy, heads of many European governments ... and party leaders, even failed ones like Silvio Berlusconi, who, as the Economist's reporter noted, is seated off to the side. Front and center, receiving the accolades of one and all, is Premier Monti, a specially invited guest. The praise manages to allude, oh so delicately, to the shambles in which Mr. Berlusconi left the country for Monti to clean up with his classic austerity policies. Part Versailles-like theater among some of Europe's most potent players, part campaign event in Monti's not yet incubated candidacy, it was an eloquent moment in the transition from national to transnational governance in the EU.What does this leave for Berlusconi but a populist attack against Europe, the single currency, the whole cartload of his enemies? And what can Mario do, as the Economist additionally editorialized, but "Run, Mario, Run," a sentiment widely shared, at least in Brussels.

 On the other side of the fence, while Bersani calls on Monti to reserve his gifts for a nation that will need him elsewhere than on the hustings (as self-serving a patriotic appeal as anyone ever uttered), Bersani's surrogate, former premier Massimo D'Alema is out there in an interview with the Corriere della Sera, taking Vendola to task for being too oppositional toward Monti's austerity politics. "Vendola isn't going to be used as a bogeyman," he remarks. "The PD has 32%, SEL (Vendola's affiliated party) 5%." The Left will have to bend to the center. Manwhile Vendola continues to tout his string of regional successes--improved employment numbers, more exports, progress on the Ilva steel mill settlement, now prison reform--the work of a capable governor. Maybe government, real good government, is the answer after all.


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