(Reuters) – Comic Beppe Grillo rounded off the Italian election campaign with a fiery rally in central Rome that drew hundreds of thousands of supporters and underlined the capacity of his 5-Star Movement to create an upset when voting opens on Sunday.
"The one thing I am certain of is that the political class is finished. They have liquefied in political diarrhea. There is nothing left… nothing.”“In order to remain in the euro, we are starving the country…If we had the lira, we could solve our debt problem through a devaluation of our currency.”Grillo, calls Berlusconi the "Dwarf Zombie" and Mario Monti "Rigor Mortis".
- They are tired of the bogus banter being incessantly spewed by overtly corrupt old garde politicians and parties, which have proven themselves to be grossly ineffective governing the nation, and are entirely self-seeking. Under their inept stewardship, public debt has increased steadily and is now more than 126% of gross domestic product (GDP).
- They need jobs. The economy is in trouble, and it's getting worse, not better. Italy’s GDP growth(loss) in 2012 was -2.3% and its GDP is now neaarly 8% below its 2007 pre-crisis level. general unemployment is currently running over 11.2%, with unemployed youths running at 36.6%. Consumer confidence is in a virtual free fall since 2009.
- They want out from under the scourge of EU Plutocratic rule from Brussels, they want to dump the EURO entirely, and rid themselves of the parasitical international banking elites. Since entering the Eurozone, Italy, Europe’s second-biggest debtor after Greece relative to its economy, is in its fourth recession since 2001.
Alessandro Amadori is an expert in political psychology, an author and sociologist. He also runs Coesis research, a marketing and communication institute. He puts forth the following cultural observation, as to why Italians mistrust the EU technocrats, and it resonates:
"What people need to understand about Italy, is that we are a populist and 'leader-led' population," he said. "That is part of our history. Perhaps to understand Italy, you should remember that we have a very emotive relationship with our politicians. Berlusconi's success is because he conquered the populist part of our nation, just like Mussolini did, and of course Caesar."
According to Amadori, Italians are still searching for "their new Caesar and we spend all our time looking for him." The question is, have they found their new man in Guiseppe Grillo? Although, one of the most curious aspects about Beppe's campaign, is that he can't actually even present himself as Italy's next prime minister, since he has a felony conviction over a road accident in the 1980s, which bars him under his own rules. He stands strictly as the founder and voice of the 5 Star Movement, who fights to put the party's deputies in office. It may well be for this very reason, that he is viewed as the ultimate purist's protest vote. And believe me, there are millions of disaffected, disillusioned, dejected, disenfranchised, and disgusted citizens of Europe, just dying for the opportunity to pull the EZ protest vote lever.
If you require even further pointed proof that the Pontiff's people are patently pissed, just check out the names of some of the burgeoning, lesser known political parties, now vying for seats in the soon to be formed Italian Parliament; "Stop the Decline," "Italy for the Common Good," "Italian Brothers," "Civil Revolution". Clearly, the grass roots are growing and spreading like brightly colored Bougainvillea on Piazza walls. Although these flourishing parties will gain some seats, and will undoubtedly be in the mix forming the new governing alliances, there are actually only four major parties seriously in contention to achieve majority control of the Italian Parliament.
- The centre-left DP (Democratic Party) led by Pier Luigi Bersani. Bersani has pledged to maintain the broad reform course set by Monti while easing the burden of austerity policies on ordinary families and pensioners. Although, he has also expressed serious reservations about moves to ease hiring and firing rules that were one of the centerpieces of Monti's reform drive.
- The right PDL (People of Freedom Party) alliance with the Lega Nord (Northern League) led by Silvio Berlusconi. Berlusconi 76, The free wheeling media billionaire is running a highly televised personality campaign, that calls for undoing many of Monti's austerity measures. He says he will push to reimburse taxpayers for a controversial property tax imposed last year to stabilize the budget.
- The centrist SC (Civic Choice Party) is a political union formed from a collection of centrist parties to support the EU imposed technocrat Prime Minister, Mario Monti, and his austerity reform agenda. It is a part of the coalition With Monti for italy, along with Union of the Centre (UdC) and Future and Freedon (FLI).
- The Non-aligned M5S (Five Star Movement) is led by Giuseppe Grillo. A Comedian, Blogger and activist turned wildcard campaigner, Beppe Grillo, has shaken up the campaign and may gain multiple seats from voters disillusioned with mainstream parties. His voters are anti-politics, anti-Monti, anti-austerity, and anti Eurozone.
Analysts are divided over whether Mr Bersani, who was five points ahead two weeks ago, will be able to form a stable majority capable of pursuing the economic reforms that an uncompetitive Italy needs to exit recession.
Mr Bersani is thought now to be just a few points ahead of Mr Berlusconi but is still seen with a good chance of the winner's bonus of parliamentary seats that will give him comfortable control of the lower house.
However, the election will revolve around the much more complex Senate race, where winners' bonus seats are awarded on a region-by-region basis.
The centre-left and centre-right are close to a draw in several battleground regions, including industrial powerhouse Lombardy, which returns the most senators.
Mr Berlusconi formed an alliance with the federalist Northern League because of the importance of populous northern regions in the Senate race.
In his final campaign rally, Mr Grillo whipped up a crowd of half a million in Rome, telling established parties to "get out!"
Mr Grillo and his 5-Star Movement have grabbed headlines in the election campaign after tapping into a national mood of disillusion with politicians and economic austerity.
Arriving in his distinctive campaign bus in Rome, he launched into his now familiar tirade against corrupt politicians and bankers, taking aim against targets ranging from Mr Berlusconi and Mr Monti to German chancellor Angela Merkel.
"Give up! You're surrounded!" he yelled to cheers from the crowd, many of whom had waited for hours in the rain before his arrival at Piazza San Giovanni, a traditional meeting place of the left.
It was supposed to be an easy victory for the Italian center-left candidate, Pier Luigi Bersani. After all, his opponents include Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister facing trial for underage prostitution, Mario Monti, the technocratic premier many Italians blame for a year of harsh austerity, and—vacuuming up the protest vote—Beppe Grillo, a bombastic comedian who refuses to campaign on television.Instead, as Italians head to the polls on Feb. 24 and 25, the result is anything but certain. Bersani has spent much of the past two months watching Berlusconi close the gap between them. Since the beginning of the election season, the former prime minster has been ever-present on Italian television, both on the channels he owns and those of his competitors. In January, he appeared on a program hosted by two of his most ferocious critics, making a show of walking into the lion’s den, and, in front of a record audience, wiping the floor with them (almost literally; at one point, he used a handkerchief to dust off a chair where one of his opponents had been sitting).In a campaign that sometimes seemed designed to panic markets, Berlusconi stole headlines by threatening to leave the eurozone if Germany continues to insist on austerity, announcing amnesties for tax evasion and illegal building and pledging to overturn, and even refund, an unpopular housing tax put in place by Monti—moves carefully calibrated to appeal to an electoral base that is largely uneducated and mistrustful of a state that overspends and mismanages their money. “A lot of [Italians] still look at Berlusconi as their savior, or at least the lesser evil,” Robert D’Alimonte, a professor of political science at Rome’s LUISS University. “They might hate him. They might think he’s a crook. They know about bunga bunga [the alleged sex parties at Berlusconi’s mansions]. But they see him as the only one they can trust who won’t raise their taxes.”Casting further doubt on the election result is uncertainty over the validity of polls. In an election year characterized by voter disaffection, some 30% of Italians remain unsure for whom they will cast their ballot, or if they will vote at all. The rising popularity of Beppe Grillo, whose anti establishment campaign has lifted him into third place in the polls, adds a further wrinkle—as a new phenomenon, nobody is sure from whom he is sucking votes. On Feb. 22, tens of thousands of Italians in Rome risked a cold rain to watch him give the closing speech of his campaign. Meanwhile, leaked election predictions—presented on web sites purportedly handicapping horse races—indicate that Monti may be losing support ahead of this weekend’s poll, raising the specter that Bersani might not be able to count on his support. “The only viable government Italy has is a Bersani-Monti government,” says “D’Alimonte. “If there’s no Monti in the senate, it’s a disaster for Italy and for Europe.”
The Eurocrats worst nightmare scenario, is that the Italian general elections bring about a coalition of forces which openly repudiate and outright resist, the continuation of the sovereign restructuring package and austerity reforms put in place by their front man Monti, that are currently underway, and which are so vital to their financial interests. In this regard, it is important to understand that Italy has the third largest bond market in the world after the United States & japan, and it is the German & French banks which have the largest aggregate exposure to that massive Italian government debt. Italy is the third most indebted country in the world after the United States and Japan, owing over 1.9 trillion Euros ($2.5 trillion)
Should teflon Don Silvio or Beppe Brillo prevail and put together any workable coalition whatsoever, you can count on Italian bond yields to move up very sharply, as both candidates have made it quite clear, that they intend to take a sharp U-turn, on the imposed EU austeruty reforms. And, that my friends, ain't what the Euro doctor ordered! The other negative voting outcome for the EU, is a completely hung Italian Parliament, where no workable governing majority can be formed, and thus new elections are called for, creating further uncertainty and problematic delays. Again here, upward pressure on bond markets would most certainly surface. Can you say financial market stress?
The following perceptive analysis from the prevailing finance & banking establishment's political-economy magazine of choice, The Economist, not so subtly demonstrates their incredulous disbelief & distinct discomfort with Beppe Grillo:
One way of looking at Mr Grillo is as trenchant and necessary critic of Italy’s current, woeful situation. He is particularly incisive with respect to Italy’s political parties: grotesquely over-funded by the taxpayer; seemingly incapable of generational rejuvenation, and corrupt in many areas and at many levels. Seen in this light, Mr Grillo is a man who has supplied a democratic, and so far, peaceful outlet for the frustration of millions of Italians who feel themselves to have been betrayed by a bankrupt political system.
Yet while his criticisms are often accurate, Mr Grillo’s remedies are either non-existent, simplistic or utopian. The programme of his movement contains nothing on foreign policy, for example, and precious little on how it would get Italy out of its dire economic straits. Selected in an on-line poll, his parliamentary candidates have no previous experience of either legislation or government.
Even so, there is a growing possibility that 80, 90 or even 100 seats of these political novices could sit in the 630-seat lower house and perhaps half as many in the 315-seat Senate. So far, the effects of this have been seen in terms of it bringing about a hung parliament and perhaps forcing a new election. That may not happen. In Sicily, for example, where Mr Grillo and his movement won more votes than any other party in the regional election last October, his elected representatives mostly vote tamely with the centre-left governor (chosen in a separate ballot).
But there is another dimension to Mr Grillo’s apparent breakthrough that could weigh even more heavily on the rest of the euro zone. If it occurs, it will show that far too many Italians fail to understand the seriousness of their economic situation, let alone the complexity of the policies required to solve it.
They will have allowed themselves once again to have been seduced by a purveyor of macro-economic snake oil; someone who claims to be able to dispel their problems as if by magic. Italy has been here before, in 2001 when Mr Berlusconi promised them a ‘new economic miracle’. In the 10 years that followed Italy’s economy hardly grew, stagnated or shrank.
Finally, see below, the latest Google trend tracking from today, which must be of grave consternation to the EU Financial Oligarchs in their ongoing quest to maintain unquestioned authority over their usurious union.
Go Beppe Go, BDI's with you all the way!
Let the Monday morning market mayhem begin……………Evil Plan 109.0 vaffanculo Bernankio!