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Mar
05

IS ITALY TELLING US SOMETHING?

 

IS ITALY TELLING US SOMETHING?
By CAMERON DUODU
Italian politics seems unfathomable. Okay, there is hardly a nation in the world whose politics makes sense to outsiders.
But something needs explaining when a man like the  former prime minister, Mr  Silvio Berlusconi, can  continue to be relevant – and even enjoy the prospect of wielding  power again –in a political system which, elsewhere, would have seen him “dead and buried” as far as public influence is concerned.
For Berlusconi has been  ridiculed in the  sexual arena, where he has fielded  innuendoes that he held orgies (or what he called “bunga bunga parties”) at which female  “minors” (below the age of consent) were allegedly procured for the entertainment of himself and his “decadent”  political and business friends. He has also been accused of engaging in massive corruption of other politicians. Even as one accusation seems to be dying down, another rises like a resurrecting snake  to  bring a ‘tut-tut’ to the lips of  Italy and Europe. When will this man stop? they ask.
As for me, it is poor  AC Milan that I am soprry for! They have to suffer the fallout from their owner’s indiscretions, talented though their players are. Who will absolve them from the sneaky suspicion that perhaps their achievements are secretly teleguided from bank vaults?
Right now, even as Berlusconi is once more trying to rig up a coalition government, after the recent election which returned a “hung” parliament, another accusation has been making waves against Berlusconi. It has been revealed that an Italian senator, Sergio De Gregorio,  has confessed to Italian  prosecutors that between 2006 and 2008, he received 3m Euros ($3,896,400) in bribes from  Berlusconi, to help bring down the  centre-left government of the time, led by  Romano Prodi.
The Senator’s accusation has led to counter-accusations by Berlusconi’s supporters. They say the Senator  is trying to  sabotage the former prime minister’s   attempts to negotiate a possible coalition government with the centre-left Democratic party,  to break the impasse created by the election of  a hung parliament.
The seriousness of the accusations against Mr Berlusconi has practically ruled out the possibility of a coalition between him and the Democrats.  Pier Luigi Bersani, leader of the Democrats, is  trying, instead,  to persuade a new party, the ‘anti-establishment’ Five Star Movement, to support him in forming a minority government.
That brings me to the point of this article: the Five Star Movement is led by a  — a professional comedian! The chap’s name is  Beppe Grillo, and when he was campaigning, he was often  dismissed as an“upstart” who didn’t have a serious thought in his mind. Now, Grillo is being wooed as the ‘playmaker’ of Italy’s fractured post-election political scene.
In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, “Grillo appears to be the only real winner of Italy’s elections, and he and his scores of untested lawmakers could hold the key to Italy’s next government — what it looks like, how long it lasts and what, if anything, it gets done.” That isn’t  a joke, is it? Well the Wall Street Journal isn’t exactly the reading preference of joke-seekers. It is read by millionaires and billionaires, with a sharp eye the movement of  shares and bonds and things of that nature. 
Indeed, Grillo’s Five-Star Movement won 25% of the popular vote and is poised to seat 163 lawmakers in Italy’s two houses of Parliament. With 54 seats in the upper house, the Senate, his party is big enough to force into being, a situation in which Italy’s leading coalition — led by the centre-left Democratic Party — will be able to form a new government, only if it can forge an alliance with Grillo. Everything else, it appears, will be a comedy of errors (pun intended!).
That’s because, as the Wall Street Journal notes, the only other alternative is for the Democrats to form a new coalition  with their so-called ”arch-enemy”, Silvio Berlusconi’s party! So, it does it look as if Grillo could be in power soon, or at the very least,  force a new election to be held.
The MPs  in Mr. Grillo’s party— who are referred to as the “Grillini”—are said to be a marked difference   to the ‘clubby’ Italian  political scene, which is largely made up  of career politicians. The“Grillini”, on the other hand,  consist, among others, of  unemployed graduates, teachers and care workers. Their influx will make the new Parliament Italy’s youngest ever, and also the one with the most women members. These are the “floating voters” that every country seems to have in plenty, including Ghana. How one wishes our voters paid close attention to Italian politics!
For what the Grillini have  done is to expose the old parliamentarians and politicians as the same old  boring lot, who cannot provide realistic solutions to Italy’s political and economic problems, especially its huge debt and ever-declining economy.  Will other European states be going the same way?
That is not an idle question. If parliamentarians make themselves a joke –and who would dispute the fact that Berlusconi had reduced Italian politics to a farce – then professional jokers can –paradoxically —  feel emboldened to restore sanity to the body-politic. Can you imagine such a thing happening in Ghana? Imagine a party doing a “Woyome” and still feeling able to claim victory in an election! Doesn’t that arouse the instincts of the comedian to have a go at the windmills of politics?
I mean, suppose a   true comedian were to decide to  form a party as a protest–if nothing else –   against the way our new Ministers  and deputy Ministers were “vetted” by our current Parliamentarians. How many votes do you think such a “comedian” would attract? Especially if he handed round leaflets at his rallies in which such reports
as the one below would be copied from our parliamentary Hansard:

MP: “Ei, Madam, so I see you went to a good school, eh?”
 
Yes, Honourable. I went to  the Agome Girls School. It’s in Honourabler’s constituency.”
 
MP: I knoiw! I know! But Madam, you didn’t tell us on your CV, how many O Levels you obtained there.” 
Oh sorry, Honourable. The typist was late with the CV so I didn’t read it through before I came.”
 
— “I am sure you will read it  through, put in the omissions and correct the typos, and bring it back to the clerk of the House?”
 
— “Yes, Honourable, I shall take your suggestions. They are very constructive.”
 

MP: “Honourable Ministerial Nominee, I am pleased that the President has found it convenient to appoint you to be a Minister in his Cabinet. Can you tell us why you think he chose you?”
 
— “Oh, Honourable, I don’t like talking about myself oh! It makes me feel  shy! You see, some people might mistakenly think that I am blowing my own horns! Especially, members of the Minority Group, though — though  they are not here!” (UPROARIOUS LAUGHTER)
 
— “Don’t mind them! We are here to hear about your achievements and get the public to appreciate that His Excellency the President is choosy about the people he puts in Ministerial posts.” (SHOUTS OF HEAR! HEAR!)
 
— ”Well, Honourable, if you say so, then  I SHALL SAY THIS: worked for five years before my appointment. I was a business executive.   I know the ins and outs of doing business in Ghana and I was able to buy myself an  SUV without taking any loan from any bank, so I  shall be able to take good care of any government vehicles that are given to me for my work.”
 
— “Aha!” – so you will be able to  advise His Excellency the President on what international loans to accept and what not to?”
 
— “Oh yes, but I…  (PAUSE)  … I shall try not to go contrary to the advice of others and maybe step on the toes of the Minister of Finance, or the Governor of the Bank of Ghana”.
 
— “That is very very interesting: collective responsibility. I am glad you have reminded us of it.. It is a very intelligent way of conducting government business – let each  man stick to his portfolio and give others the space to do theirs.”
 
— “Thank you, Honourable.”
 
— “Nominee Minister, what do you propose to do about youth unemployment  that is becoming rampant in our country?”
 
— “I will tell them that as His Excellency the President declared the other day, galamsey is
not the way to become rich”. (LOUD APPLAUSE)
 
— “Thank you,  Honourables! I shall admonish  them that  galamsey is dangerous to the health of the  young people we need to build a strong nation. When you do galamsey, you can fall inside a deep pit and die. You can fall into a river and die. You can contaminate your drinking water with sulphur and other harmful s like cyanide and die. But Ghana needs every able-bodied person to help build the country.”
 
— “Nominee Minister how will you solve the problem of the increase of deaths on our roads?”
 
— “Thank you,  Honourable, for asking me that, Honourable. There are too many accidents on our roads. The accidents are killing our people basaa! (LOUD LAUGHTER). I shall  make it my duty to call the Ghana Road Transport Union  people and impress it upon them to impress it upon their members that Ghanaians’ lives are precious. Every Ghanaian’s life is precious. (LOUD APPLAUSE).  Each time someone dies in a motor accident, a  mother is bereaved. A father is bereaved.  A sister is bereaved. A brother is bereaved. A friend is bereaved. A relative is bereaved. So, in miniature, the whole of Ghana is bereaved. We cannot go on bereaving ourselves like that and always going to funerals and getting killed in accidents,  on the way to attend  accident funerals. Sometimes, even drivers themselves  are killed in these accidents. Yet careless driving continues unabated. ” (LOUD APPLAUSE).
 
— “Minister-designate, I am sure everyone in this august House agrees with you. We for our part – I think I speak on behalf of all my Honourable colleagues –will do our best to offer our ideas to you, so that you too can offer ideas to the Transport Union, so that it can advise its members, so that we shall preserve the lives of our dearly beloved Ghanaians.”
 
— “Thank you  Honourable. I shall welcome  your co-operation, Honourable!”
 
Hey — Ajax Bukana, Bob Cole,. Waterproof, where are you? Your country needs you!
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