EUACCIDENT’: Monti resigns, enter Berlusconi…

…and an electoral free-for-all

Beppe GrilloBeppe Grillo….surprise winner in Sicily

Silvio Berlusconi’s PDL Party having withdrawn its support for Italy’s Goldman Sachs technocracy, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti resigned last night. Berlusconi – who is appealing against a tax evasion conviction, and faces under-age sex charges – had announced his decision to return to frontline politics earlier last week.

EU politicians are a delightful lot, aren’t they? They tend to produce plenty of what Brussels calls ‘mistakes’ – that is, eccentricity, criminality and personal popularity sabotaging The Great Project of a Berlin-dominated superstate. The media in Italy late last night were stressing that Sex Beast Silvio wanted a return to power mainly to get his tax conviction quashed, restore protectionism to his business interests, and then get the bunga-bunga charges dropped. But whatever his motives (and they will almost certainly be base) this is a major spanner in the mysterious works of Angela Merkel and Herman van Rompuy.

First and foremost, it is bound to spook the markets. With no Monti managing the soap opera, they will expect a degree of chaos.

Second, there is the very real likelihood that Berlusconi’s peculiar brand of nationalism will become more extreme: sources overnight were suggesting that the PDL Party will call for the reintroduction of the lira, perhaps even for an official default, as a direct alternative to Monti’s fanatical eurozone support known in ClubMed as ‘extend and pretend’.

Berlusconi will not be alone in running on a ‘get out’ ticket: Beppe Grillo heads the Five Star Movement, an anti-EU, anti-corruption and Eurosceptic party. Signor Grillo is a comedian, actor, fecund blogger, and all-round Italian activist. But he is no joke: his Party won last week’s Sicilian local elections, and a Slog source in Italy described other politicians as being “terrified of what he might achieve in a General Election”.

Those elections will now be brought forward as, under Italian electoral law, a Prime Ministerial resignation from lack of support must trigger a poll within seventy days…some time around February 20th. As we have seen in Greece – with both Golden Dawn and Syriza making rapid electoral progress – these new elections will hand the initiative to the more radical Parties.

All this could spell trouble for new PD (social democrat) leader Pierluigi Bersani. When Bersani won the PD leadership last Monday, Italian newspapers ran banner headlines, La Repubblica even talking about ‘the inevitable path’ of the new man to become Prime Minister a la Hollande in France. But with surging support for 5-Star, and Berlusconi throwing his bunga-bunga into the ring, a stalemate is the almost certain result of the election as and when it happens.

Keep a close eye on reactions from Berlin-am-Brussels. This is going to be a very hard sell to the German electorate….and will almost certainly produce a backlash from the private banking hawks in Frankfurt.

Don’t you love farce?
My fault, I fear.
I thought that you’d want what I want –
Sorry, my dear.
But where are the clowns?
There ought to be clowns.
Quick, send in the clowns.