A dogmatic society ruled by organized criminals and an antidemocratic populist leader… Sounds like some post-Soviet state? Well actually, I mean Italy.
I don’t understand why the country continues to enjoy such a privileged place in the EU, the G-8, and among the Western elite generally. Italy shows a serious democratic deficit and presents some worrying features of failing governance.
While it would be exaggerated to describe Italy as a failed state altogether, it does look like one at least locally. It is no news that, at least in its southern half, the country’s economy and politics is controlled by the mafia. The recent waste management saga is just one of the symptoms of long-standing government failure.
It is no news either that Italian Prime Minister Silvo Berlusconi isn’t quite a fan of democracy. He carves himself special laws to avoid trial. He picks people for important posts on their sex appeal score rather than for their professional qualifications. And last but not least, he cheerfully controls most of the media. Quite frankly I wonder why Italian citizens waited for sex stories to cry out “Scandal!”. To me that’s just the icing on the cake.
Freedom House ranks Italy 73rd for press freedom. It’s labelled ‘partly free,’ just below Israel and Benin. In the EU, the only other countries ranked ‘partly free’ in 2009 are Romania and Bulgaria. Yet, while these two new member states are put under pressure to reform their institutions, Italy is cozily organizing a G-8 summit.
I call this arrogance.
Italy is certainly not the worst governed state on this planet. But its international prestige level is excessive compared to its internal governance. It’s none of Italy’s business to rule Europe, let alone the world.
Could the world leaders please remind Mr Berlusconi to clean up his backyard before inviting him to their table?