The wind in Italy blows stronger

Mauri Favaron
Posted June 13, 2011 from Italy

Water, Nuclear power, and "Legittimo Impedimento": these the three points Italian citizens have been asked to take a stand about in the four referenda held yesterday and today.

The actual voters percent, around 57, far exceeded the 50-percent-plus-one-voter required for abrogation referenda validity in Italy. Forecasts (reliable at the time I'm writing) predict something more of 90% of "yes" to abrogation.

This is a very big result, given that since almost twenty years all referenda in Italy failed as not enough potential voters presented to electoral urns.

But this time, to add meaning to the event, another fact happened: the Government made all what possible to them to made the referenda fail. For a very good reason, from their point of view: making water "private" and reintroducing nuclear power were two hotly debated tenets of the Government's later policy.

"Legittimo impedimento" is another story (very Italian, very mr.Berlusconi's, and after all of limited interest worldwide). I tried to translate this term, but the best I was able to envision is, "legitimate impediment". Very informative? Ahem... Better I try to explain in normal words, as Italian legalese is so difficult even to me who am Italian.

Suppose you are: - The President, - The Prime Minister, - The President of Senate, or - The President of House of Deputy

and you are discovered having committed a crime. Would "legittimo impedimento" pass, then in case of trial all these four people could claim not having the time to present the trial, actually interrupting it endlessly (or, at least, until termination of their institutional mandates). Otherwise, these four people (the actual Prime Minister in particular) would have to quit any of their national or international activities and attend their trial - as any citizen would.

Maybe of greater interest for a worldwide audience are the other three points, one about nuclear power, and the other two on water. I try to summarize - the way all points were formulated is quite an abstruse exercise in Italian legalese.

I begin with water, an issue I'm sensitive to, as so many.

The Government proposal was to oblige local authorities (municipalities and consortia) to constitute mixed society for water resource management with at least one private operator, up to 40% share, and with a guaranteed remuneration for the private subject equal to (if I understood the correct way) 7% the overall tariff.

This, under the (ideological?) tenet that "privates are more efficient than public subjects", and that they will "invest". Many example in recent Italy show one, or possibly both, of these assumptions are false: privates may be very efficient, but at making business (in the specific case, maximizing their profit), and as so often happens in Italian "capitalism" by refraining from investing, income being in some way guaranteed (the "tariff 7% of guaranteed yield" is no exception).

Water of course can be managed by public subjects efficiently. The point is, allowing them to be efficient (or compelling, if necessary). Italian people has clearly said this can be, and should - a major defeat for the Government as policymaker.

And what about nuclear power? In last years the Italian Government has raised universal attention for its illuminate energy policy: not having one at all.

Due to immense public debt, incentives to renewable energy have been repeatedly cut in comparison to other European countries, Germany first. This, in lack of any clear intention about what kind of energy will Italy safely count in the next decades - natural gas, oil and nuclear especially.

Italian Government's interest on nuclear power is quite recent and, I suspect, triggered by contacts by lobbyists in national and international pro-nuclear groups. Nuclear energy has been repeatedly presented to the public as "now safe" - until the catastrophe in Japan.

Yes, Japan. The nuclear side of this planetary tragedy hits me again as an image: the technicians behind the white curtain. Do you remember them? Who of them did survive? What, of their families?

Japan still cries for them, and the immense multitude of other victims - nuclear and not.

And Japan is a very organized Country.

I wonder (with horror) what might have happened in Italy, the Country of "depotentiated concrete" (concrete with less cement, used - against law - by some entrepreneur and Mafia to reduce construction costs against safety) and endemic disorganization.

Again, Italian people gave a clear message. And once again, Italian people (left- and right-wing) said something different from the Government's policy.

"Se non ora, quando?" ("If not now, when?") This we, Italian women and people, said on February (if you want to see more, you may have a look to my previous post,

That time, the question was direct and compelling, about women dignity in Italy. And, it was formulated in a quiet, joyful, passionate way so different from the warrior's ethos so common in Italy on this time.

And now, the referenda electoral campaign. Once again quiet, non-ideological. pragmatic, with passion and hope. Once again women played an important - fundamental - role. Mothers especially, and teachers, and young people, worried about a land, Italy, in which almost twenty years of constant barking have placed future of everyone - our children mostly - out of the agenda. Where a vulgar, ferocious way of conceiving anyone not agreeing with the Boss' opinion an "enemy", not just a person with a different opinion, have poisoned the souls - of the morally weakest first - initiating an Age of Fear whose main effect is to stop development, to make people feel under a non-existent state of siege.

Once again, people, and women among them, have said "no" - with grace. The Italian way of being revolutionary? In kindness and joy? Have to admit, quite a "feminine" way, by men and women alike.

Now, we have to wait for reactions from the Government and, more generally, the political class. We'll see in the mid and long term. In the short term, all the messages destinations reacted by noticing a referendum not being a political election - that is, trying to stay on the saddle at any cost.

But now, the absolute majority of Italian people is officially not with them...

Love (and a lot of hope, finger crossed)


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