Alberto Forchielli is at the Beijing airport. We analyze the results of the European elections while he’s waiting for his flight to Hong Kong. We’re freewheeling here. And read this sitting down. You’ll understand why…
Renzi got more votes that Berlinguer. Alberto, what do you think? It’s a great gesture of trust on behalf of Italians. They were afraid of Grillo’s final outburst and they were incentivized by the 80-Euro per month move. The problem is that Italy is not a normal country and almost no one—probably not even Renzi—is aware of the sacrifices necessary to become a normal country because the internal problems are still unresolved.
What effect does it have on Beijing and Hong Kong? Seen from here, Italy is finished. And Renzi’s victory counts for nothing. This is Asia’s century because people want to work here, they’re willing to make sacrifices, and countries travel light because they have no debt. Italy, on the other hand, is drowning in public debt and lacks a work ethic that compares with Asia’s.
Why do you think Renzi’s victory counts for nothing? Because Italians are not prepared for the recipe of sacrifice—the one that demands working more and better—and so they have elected, once again, someone that hides the truth. Huge cuts are necessary as well as reviewing the entire welfare system and modifying legislation. The recipe is severe, but there are no other solutions. The rest of the world is growing and we’re caught in the middle. The USA, Canada, and Mexico are going strong. Asia is a freight train, and even Africa isn’t joking around. We’re surrounded by giants. In the face of these growth scenarios, Europe is trying to maintain its standards, but it’s impossible. Spain and Portugal are reacting better than we are. Greece is in default. France is in political mayhem but has a more stable economy than we do. And we are small, have little desire to work, are full of debt and public dependents.
What scenarios do you see for Renzi? I imagine a transverse coalition of all the dinosaurs against Renzi because they fear him from an electoral standpoint, and with the consequent obstacle to electoral reform, exit from bicameralism, and elimination from the senate. While Renzi keeps playing with the idea of 80 Euros and indebting the country even more without obtaining any results until the people tire of him and send him home. Or, he could seriously try to do something, and they will still send him home.
Is there a positive aspect to the elections? Stopping Grillo’s advances. I share his disgust for the system, but he is not adopting constructive strategies. And I am sorry for the movement’s young professionals who work in good faith and are trying to find a way out of a broken system.
Monti has disappeared… The hate for Monti stems from the refusal to take medicine that’s hard to swallow, but sooner or later we’ll have to reackon with reality, and Renzi won by ignoring it.
How many years can we keep going like this, without necessary structural reforms? I’d say a maximum of ten years. In the meantime the economy won’t grow, and they’ll force us to buy back our debt to the point of going into default with us.
You really don’t think Renzi is up to the task of instigating change? Renzi is an extraordinary public speaker. That’s it. But so was Ronald Reagan. Actually, Reagan, unlike Renzi, had a few ideas. In this case, educated consultants made up the difference. It worked with Reagan, but we have yet to see how it will go for Renzi. For sure he has a unique opportunity to change Italy. Furthermore, he can look Merkel in the eyes and obtain what he wants because in Europe today, we are Germany’s most trusted partner and therefor we have a lot of bargaining power, also thanks to Italy’s semester as EU president.
Is Europe there in the face of all this? Europe is a joke because it’s not equipped, it doesn’t make any decisions, and it’s slow in its choices due to too many intersecting vetoes. We’re dinosaurs, while the US and China are moving fast and Asia waits in the alley to loot us.
Alberto, what advice do you have for young Italians? What I’m about to tell you is dramatic because I love my country and I’m a deeply patriotic person, but it’s for your own good. Look outside Italy. Go to Northern Europe, the US, and Asia. Come back only to eat tortellini, and then run away when your stomachs are full.