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In defence of technocrats

17 November 2011

5:28 PM

17 November 2011

5:28 PM

Is Mario Monti’s administration in Italy democratic? Is Greece’s new government? To
some, especially in the blogosphere, it is the exact opposite: a technocratic and undemocratic government foisted upon Italy and Greece by (circle as appropriate) Angela Merkel/Nicolas Sarkozy, the
Bilderberg Group/EUSSR, etc.

But nobody forced Silvio Berlusconi to resign. Nobody sacked him. Under pressure by the markets, he chose to resign. He could have stayed and nobody denied that he had a constitutional right to do
so. It would have cost Italy dear, but he could have stayed. In addition, Monti was appointed to the Senate by the Italian president who himself is elected by Parliament in a joint session of the
Chamber and the Senate, integrated with 58 representatives appointed by the twenty Italian regions. That’s a lot of democratic mandates.


Further, Professor Monti’s government will rely on the votes of the elected parties including Silvio Berlusconi’s PDL. They are installing him and they can remove him at any time. They will also
have to approve any reforms. The new Italian PM knows he relies on them — and their mandates — only too well. He has repeatedly underlined this in his public statements. 

And this is key. The political parties are opting for a technocratic government because they dare not instigate the reforms they know are required. They want to rule, but not govern — and a
technocratic interlude allows them to do that. Cowardice? Yes. An indictment of Italy’s politics? Yes. Undemocratic? No.   

What of elections? Right now in Italy, nobody seems to want elections; neither the PDL nor the DP, nor the President and the new PM. If more than 80 per cent of the legislature do not want
elections and chose to install a technocratic government, how is that undemocratic? 

Finally, most Italians I’ve spoken with — including officials, politicians, businesspeople, journalists and analysts — seem happy to see the end of bunga bunga politics and want to be
saved, not go to the polls. They may change their minds as the Monti government begins its reforms. The political parties may yank their support. Eventually, elections will happen. But, for now,
the majority seem to accept the course followed as necessary and democratic. So should outsiders.


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