Serene Statesman Restored Credibility
Letter to the Editor, Financial Times, February 10, 2013
Sir, With reference to "Italian political fortunes shaped on Lombardy battleground" (News analysis, February 7): economists who fear that the Northern League's protectionist palaver may prolong Italy's recession should also concern themselves with the destabilising effects of Roberto Maroni's sotto voce secessionism. Though tainted by a corruption scandal that engulfed its founder, Umberto Bossi, the Lega Nord still agitates for the fictional region of Padania.
And while Mr Maroni has mitigated the League's anti-southern stridency, his call for "a hegemony in the north" undermines national unity – and threatens to undo all the good work of the outgoing prime minister, Mario Monti.
By dint of his serene statesmanship, gravitas and economic bona fides, Mr Monti – whom The Economist dubbed a modern-day Cincinnatus – restored Italy's international credibility, soothed the savage markets and elevated Rome's profile on the global stage. The seed of Aeneas is again recognised as one of the continent's linchpin economies: a pivotal Group of Seven nation that serves as the home of Europe's second-largest manufacturing and industrial base (after Germany).
Having "erred on the side of excessive intervention", however, Italy's Yale-educated dismal scientist-cum-caretaker premier fully understands that austerity will not engender long-term growth or rekindle Italian competitiveness. Sinewy demand management and political stability are key.
Whatever the voters decide in Lombardy, the next occupant of Palazzo Chigi ought to heed the wisdom of an ancient predecessor, Caesar Augustus: "May it be my privilege to have the happiness of establishing the commonwealth on a firm and secure basis and thus enjoy the reward which I desire, but only if I may be called the author of the best possible government."
Rosario A. Iaconis
Chairman, Italic Institute of America, Mineola, NY, US