By: Zach Wojtowicz
Italy, the third largest economy in the eurozone, has a new prime minister. The man is Mr. Mario Monti, an economist and academic, who rose to the occasion amidst Italy’s politically tense November, and will hold the office until 2013. While the ink has long been dry on this story, it has taken a few months to get a flavor of the man and to understand what new leadership will mean for Italy.
His predecessor, Silvio Berlusconi, despite being elected for a total of three terms (more than any other post-war PM), left office on bad terms. It was Berlusconi’s longstanding reputation for strife and scandal that not only hampered the political strength of the government within Italy, but further degraded that nation’s authority throughout the EU. If one recalls the guest list for EU economic meetings a year ago, they would remember Berlusconi, Cameron, Sarkozy, and Merkel as invitees. However, in the latter days of the Berlusconi administration, and following Cameron’s departure from the politics of continental Europe, these meetings increasingly seem to be carried out by the final two – Merkozy – on their own.
Mario Monti, or “Super Mario” to his friends, will change all that. Indeed, he is already well under way, with a plan to visit with the German, French, and English heads of state individually before they meet at the next EU summit on January 30th. This means that Italy is moving back into the dialogue. Italy, but also many other peripheral nations, hope that renewed Italian diplomatic strength will shift the economic strategy of Europe away from austerity toward new, more imaginative, less fiscally conservative policies. One such policy would be to further integrate a single EU market, a notion that Cameron would support, possibly bringing him back to the table as well. To my mind, a healthy European Union requires united decision making, and so the best policies will be those which everyone can stand behind.
On the domestic front, Italy’s new PM has quickly taken decisive steps to break from the previous government. Upon assuming the prime ministership, he simultaneously nominated himself to hold the position of finance minister. This represents his serious commitment to whipping spending and debt back into line. In further contrast with Berlusconi, it can be trusted that Monti’s actions will not be superficial, nor will they be to the favor of interests, because, at the end of the day, Monti is a technocrat, not a politician. He has no special interests to pander to because he wasn’t elected into office, and he has no lust for vast political power because he never strove to be a politician! It is the irony of democracy that the man who will serve as an appointed placeholder until elections is in the best position to effect change for the benefit of Italy as a whole.This post reflects the author’s personal opinions, not the opinions of Arizona Model United Nations.