2016-12-14 11:38 澳大利亚罗伊国际政策研究所
原文标题:Renzi's referendum and the future of the euro
中文摘要:罗伊研究所专家Matthew Dal Santo在《伦齐的公投和欧元的未来》一文中表示,意大利选民在公投中拒绝了意大利总理伦齐提出的宪法改革方案。但真正的问题是:“为了获得使用欧元购买生活用品的特权,你究竟愿意做出多少牺牲?”意大利人感到愤慨。当前意大利失业率高达12.5%。25岁以下年轻人的失业率甚至达到40%。很多人谴责欧元,因为自15年前意大利引入欧元以来,经济几乎没有增长。40%的意大利人支持离开欧盟,这一占比为欧洲最高。欧洲怀疑论和反对现有机制的“五星运动”党已成为意大利政坛重要的政治力量,他们希望通过公投脱离欧盟。如果意大利也离开,那么欧洲的单一货币可能将成为历史。(编译:史春姣)
Renzi's referendum and the future of the euro
On Sunday, Italians resoundingly rejectedthe constitutional changes put to them by Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.Formally, the referendum sought to curtail the powers of the Senate (Italy’supper house). But despite arguments to the contrary, the real question was:‘How much pain are you willing to suffer for the privilege of buying yourgroceries in euros?’
Italians are angry and hurting. The joblessrate runs at 12.5%; for those under 25 it's an eye-watering 40%.
Many blame the euro, since the introductionof which almost fifteen years ago growth has been virtually non-existent. It'sthe anvil on which Italian politics has broken for half a decade. Some 40% ofItalians want out, the highest in the euro zone.* The rising force of Italianpolitics, Beppe Grillo’s eurosceptic and anti-establishment Five Star Movement,wants a referendum on withdrawing from it. If Italy left, the single currencycould be history.
Known as il rottomatore (the ‘demolitionman’) in his native Florence, Renzi is a centrist in a country not known forits moderation. Sworn in as prime minister in February 2014, Renzi persuadedItaly’s faction-ridden parliament to implement a program of liberalisingreforms designed to allow Italy to return to growth, service its debts(currently 132% of GDP) and demonstrate Rome’s commitment to shoring up theeuro’s long-term viability.
In Italy’s 2013 elections, Renzi’sleft-of-centre coalition won just more than 29% of the popular vote. But Renzihimself has never stood for national election.
The referendum was not only the country’sfirst chance to have its say on his reforms. Had they been approved, theconstitutional changes would theoretically have given Renzi the power totransform the country.
A sweeping program of spending cuts, labourmarket liberalisation, pension reform and a crackdown on tax evasion has beentalked about ever since the bond markets first began to really worry aboutItalian sovereign debt in 2011. It seems Italians remain unconvinced.
I was in Rome when, under pressure from themarkets, European Commission and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, PrimeMinister Silvio Berlusconi resigned. I cheered over my copy of Corriere dellaSera when the same parties succeeded in replacing him with the impeccablydecent Mario Monti, a former European Commissioner (and Goldman Sachsinvestment banker). Parachuted into parliament by a provision that allows thePresident of the Republic (then Giorgio Napolitano, a pillar of publicrectitude) to appoint life senators, Monti was to lead a ‘technocratic’government (as if economic policy could magically cease being political) thatwould introduce reforms to avert the debt emergency threatening the euro.
Advised to go to the polls to secure amandate, Monti dithered. As his programme was revealed over the followingmonths, the unions, the parliament and eventually the public turned againsthim. In elections in 2013, his coalition won just 11% of the vote. Therevolution was stillborn.
Since then, Italy has had two more primeministers and is now poised to get a third.
Historians may one day conclude thatRenzi’s budding liberal revolution (and with it perhaps the euro) fell victimto the same things that killed off Monti’s: the 1947 Italian constitution(which Renzi sought in vain to change) and Italy’s own distinctive politicalculture (which would have had to change had he succeeded).
To forestall the emergence of another Duce,the post-war Italian constitution was weighted in favour of the legislature;executive powers were weakened and divided. It also laid down an unusually‘pure’ system of proportional representation, with parties winning as little as2% of the vote gaining parliamentary representation.
The electoral law has since changed. But itstill favours regional and sectional interests over national ones. Monti’sprogramme calling for sacrifices from a host of vested interests was alwaysgoing to be an easy target, and so proved Renzi’s referendum.
The other factor is the status ofliberalism, which came to much of the peninsula as a foreign creed during theRisorgimento, its emphasis on the individual upending established forms ofcollective authority: Church, family, town and region, class.
Among many Italians, there’s still littleconsensus that a natural ‘harmony of interests’ exists and exceptionally littlefaith in Smith’s invisible hand (the same is true, mutatis mutandi, of much ofsouthern Europe, from Spain and Portugal to Greece). Italy’s constitutionaddresses unemployment by enshrining a ‘right to work’ (diritto al lavoro).
To say the past hangs heavily over Italy isa truism. It’s why almost 50 million people visit it every year. But it’s notalways picturesque.
During the Cold War Italy teetered betweenthe soft authoritarianism of the Catholic centre-right and open sympathy forthe Soviet bloc among Communists on the left. The Communist threat was viewedso seriously that Italy’s immediate post-war Christian Democratic governmentslet most Mussolini-era public administrators remain at their posts; all but themost egregious fascist-era laws remained on the books.
Even today Italian society remainsremarkably polarised, and the liberal centre weak.
Unable to generate the consensus forreform, Italian governments have traditionally responded to industrial conflictand declining competitiveness through debt and devaluation. But globalisationand above all the euro have made old solutions redundant. Italy no longer has acurrency of its own to devalue, nor a central bank obliged to buy its debt.Reform, while unavoidable, will be exceptionally painful (imagine theHawke-Keating reforms had been carried out in an era of fixed exchange rates).
Liberal-minded Italians have always seen inEuropean integration a way out of Italy’s ideological confrontations.
But in theirenthusiasm for the euro, they underestimated the strength of the historical andcultural forces in contention: membership of the euro assumed the existence inItaly of a liberal consensus regarding the management of public finances thatin reality is too weak to bear the monetary and fiscal discipline that the eurodemands.
Talk to a taxi driver and as often as notMussolini (whose tomb remains a place of pilgrimage for thousands every year)will emerge as an object of praise. Esteemed historian and essayist ErnestoGalli della Loggia has described the hard left elements within Renzi’s ownparty that campaigned against his proposed reforms as representative of that‘culture of anti-reformist radicalism, of an almost extremist character, thathas dominated so many aspects of our society'.
Prudence would take such sharp politicalcleavages as part of Italian (and European) social reality. But the singlecurrency disregarded such realism. It ignored the diversity of nationalconditions, which has fuelled anti-EU sentiments across the continent. Sold asa celebration of European unity in diversity, the euro is today experienced asan instrument of brutal homogenisation.
In the wake of Italian unification, thenineteenth-century statesman Massimo d’Azeglio is said to have declared:Abbiamo fatto l’Italia. Dobbiamo addesso fare gli Italiani ('We have madeItaly. Now we must make Italians'). Regionalism is a fact of life in Italy. Aunified Italian state only appeared in 1861. This October, the Veneto observedthe sesquicentenary of its incorporation into the new state without a singlepublic celebration.
If Italy’s history since unificationteaches those looking to create a European ‘demos’ anything, it’s that youdon’t create either a people or a shared sense of the common good by imposingit by threats from above.
Regular readers will be aware of myEuroscepticism. Italy is one of the great reasons for it.