Thursday, 3 January 2013

We're back and so is Berlusconi

Winter sun on the olive grove

Three days back from England and already the grey cloud and the freezing rain are distant memories. It’s one of those days in paradise when the sky is a serene blue, and the sea reflects the sun’s warmth like a mirror.  It’s a four island day, when we can see the Tuscan archipelago - Gorgono, Capri, and Elba, as well as the mountainous bulk of Corsica on the horizon.  I ate my lunch on the terrace and planted pansies under the plum tree.  The first wild narcissi are just appearing in the olive grove and it really feels like spring.

Not all is well in paradise, however. While we were away in England there was something of a political coup here in Italy.  Cuts and searing taxes have made the technocrat prime minister Mario Monti very unpopular here.  There has been squabbling among other parties (Italy has dozens) and some party leaders have been unseated on corruption charges.  Suddenly Silvio Berlusconi (having survived corruption and under age sex charges) has arisen from the political tomb and thrown himself back in the ring, precipitating Monti’s resignation and an election in February. 

Berlusconi in a glass coffin - the sculpture that shocked the Italian art world.
 Berlusconi is promising to cut taxes, wave a magic wand and restore prosperity, but with a struggling Italian economy and a hidden 40% level of unemployment among young people, his rhetoric looks a bit empty.  However, he has both money and power - most things here are owned or controlled by him and his family in one way or another - so anything is possible.

Another, more personal reminder of the fragility of everything economic. Out here we rely on internet banking and last night I discovered some strange, unauthorised transactions on the account.  A phone call to our bank seems to have fixed things, but it was an anxious moment. It seems as though this electronic, everything-connected world we live in, is a dangerous place.

3 comments:

  1. Berlusconi back?

    Surely people can see that the libertarian policies of billionaires caused the financial mess in the first place?

    I have had a few friends that have issues with fraudulent transactions. In every case the bank has fixed them promptly.
    I think banks will take the loss to maintain confidence, after all they need the system to work.

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  2. Hi Al - politics in italy don't work in the same way as elsewhere. It's sheer lunacy. But, as Berlusconi controls much of the media, people don't get a balanced view.
    Thinking about your pics of your trip to Tasmania and watching news items of the wildfires. Sad.

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