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Profoundly Unserious

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The European Union has failed Italy because promised solidarity in taking in immigrants reaching Europe through Mediterranean routes hardly materialized. In 2017, Italy received over 60 percent of such migrants. It has failed Italy because the rigid fiscal constraints of membership of the euro — set up to ensure that Italy’s budgetary laxness and administrative inefficiency would not be a problem for Germans — have proved unsustainable, engendering growing resentment toward Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Of course, Italy has also failed itself. Parts of the country are the New York subway writ large, a lesson in what happens when waste becomes endemic and needed investment is deferred.

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Now let Salvini and Di Maio and Giuseppe Conte, the new prime minister whose inflation of his academic credentials is not reassuring, go to work on the mess. It’s much better to have them fail on the inside than have them rail from the outside. It’s better to have them lose support through failure than gain support through bluster.

The removal to a lesser job — European affairs minister — of Paolo Savona, the euro-skeptic who had been the designated finance minister, was a clever maneuver that not only saved the coalition but also reinforced democracy. With democracies, you get to throw the bums out when they mess up, not block them from assuming the power they won at the ballot.

I know, Hitler was appointed chancellor in 1933 after a democratic election. Vigilance is imperative, particularly in these troubling times when independent judiciaries and a free press are under consistent attack. But a core beauty of the European Union is that its interlocking institutions are designed precisely to ensure that no country can go off on what the Germans call a Sonderweg — the sort of wayward path of nationalism and mysticism and racism that led Germany, and all of Europe, to ruin.

Italy has a lousy government that may in the end be good for Europe.

I’ll take the long view and raise a cheer for that.


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Source : https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/01/opinion/italy-government-league-five-star-movement.html

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