That’s it. I want socialists in the Parliament even if I don’t agree with them.

socialist

Socialist Alternative. Picture of Socialist Alternative activists. Digital image. Socialist Alternative. N.p., 2016. Web. 23 Sept. 2016.

I’ve had enough of extreme right wing cuckoos in the Australian Parliament.  In the Liberal Party Cory Bernardi and George Christensen.  But even more alarmingly even more extreme One Nation Senators such as Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Roberts.

These parliamentarians expound views that in the 80’s and 90’s would have been seen extreme right wing.  Those were the angry people who then would have gone around sticky taping photocopied pages of their xenophobia/homophobia and in the case of Senator Roberts conspiracy theories on lampposts and now they are in parliament.

How did we arrive here?  I blame both the Liberal and Labor parties who have since Keating losing in 1996 trying to appease some real or imagined ‘Aussie battler Sydney Western Suburbs’ voter.

This shifted the whole spectrum to the right.  So much so that people like Bernardi and Christensen who would have been at the margins of the Liberal Party are now MPs.  Ans now we not only see the return of xenophobia with Pauline Hanson, but now we are have even global conspiracy theorists such as Senator Roberts.

This shift has caused many ex-Labor voters to move to the Greens.  But we are shifting so much to the right that even they are not ‘left enough’.

If we have so many extreme right wingers in Parliament I think we should have some extreme left ones as well.  We need real Socialist parliamentarians.

What about  MPs that stand for the overthrow of capitalism and the construction of a world socialist system.  That espouse a system under the democratic control of the working class to establish a classless,society based on the principle “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need”. Someone advocating the expropriation of banks where the the accumulated wealth created by the working class is directed to the satisfaction of pressing social needs. That oppose all immigration controls and support open borders.

Now, do I agree with that. As a Social Democrat, no.  But if we have right extreme views in parliament (and therefore in the media) why not have extreme left wing ones?  Beside seeing some commentators (Yes, Bolt, Panahi, Devine and Henderson…I’m looking at you) going in apoplexy when a Socialist MP expresses their opinions would be fun just on its own.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Why we should not get upset at Cahill wearing a Bulldogs scarf.

As the Western Bulldogs became every AFL’s second team except for Hawthorn supporters, and did the right thing of enlivening the AFL final series by eliminating them, angry tweets appeared on my timeline. Tim Cahill was ‘sleeping with the enemy’.

Then he was in the rooms after the match, and Bruno Fornaroli was on the act as well.

Personally I didn’t see any issues. But I tweeted that while it’s great to see our most famous player creating goo PR for an AFL team, it would be nice to see an AFL player doing the same for an A-League team in a final as well.

Some AFL supporters thought that I was having a dig at the AFL, which was in fact not the case – in fact quite the opposite.

Many responded telling me that there were plenty of AFL players going to A-League matches. But that wasn’t my point. Cahill was not just going to a match. He was on the news, being interviewed about the Western Bulldogs by the media etc. Are we going to see a Callan Ward from the Western Sydney Giants marching to a final match with Western Sydney fans, being interviewed about it on Channel 7 and have an article in the Sydney Morning Herald with a Wanderers scarf around his neck?

But could we also see it the other way? We could say that for those who only casually know about Association Football, seeing probably one of the few if not the only player they know amongst this AFL final publicity may make them aware that Cahill is playing for a Melbourne team in the A-League. Whether this would make anyone go and watch a Melbourne City match is debatable, but it does help raise the profile.

I do wonder if we did have an AFL player being involved in an A-League final some of us Association Football fans would whinge that the “AFL wants to hog our moment’.

Perhaps some Association Football ‘separatists’ may enjoy the thought that while the AFL sees the presence of a soccer player as an advantage, we may struggle to see the reverse as the case.

In any case Cahill reflects what is the reality in Melbourne. That while the AFL will do everything to maintain it’s dominance over other codes,  sport fans have no problems in supporting more than one.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Is the #AFL turning Aussie Rules into an imperialist code? #AFLX

 afinvasion

A couple of days ago news transpired that the AFL has been secretly trialling AFL X, a new, modified brand of football with just seven players on the ground per side, and played on a soccer pitch.  Why that is the case?  According to Sam Duncan in a article he wrote for the Fairfax press:

Strategically the AFL has just about every state and demographic covered. They are the King of the Sporting Castle.

But is the reality is, the AFL cannot afford to kick back and crack open a celebratory bottle of Grange when the season finally ends. Instead they must continue to grow the game.

The AFL, it seems, still harbours an ambition to take on the world.

Someone, somewhere within the AFL is imagining a world where the red Sherrin is kicked around every day and every night in every month of the year.

They are imagining a game called AFL X that’s played over the summer at the same time of the year and on the same pitches as the A-League…….

The game has the backing of Australia’s number one commercial broadcaster, Channel 7. There’s a men’s and women’s competition. You can play or watch some kind of AFL footy all year round.

If Duncan is right the AFL seems to be developing into the Rupert Murdoch of Australian sports seeking and sucking out any air where other sports find space.  For some Association Football supporters this development is another demonstration of how the AFL wants to stifle the A-League.  Western Sydney is growing and soccer is a major sport there?  Let’s set up a team, spend huge amount of money to support it and giving it favourable terms to become a winning one.

Women soccer has been an established sport for some time, and has huge participation numbers amongst girls?  Let’s set set up an AFL competition with lots of marketing behind it.

This AFL X shows again to some that the AFL is going the next step wanting to basically use the same pitches as soccer, and play in summer, when the A-League plays precisely to avoid being swamped by the huge media juggernaut that the AFL can produce.

Duncan continues with his article:

But here’s the clincher.

They are imagining the world embracing this new game of Australian football, too, because after all, it can be played in any town across the globe that has a soccer pitch…..

To me it sounds a little like Twenty20 cricket. And just look at that game now.

I’ve written before about my views about the ‘internationalisation’ of Australian Rules Football.  This desire of making Australian Rules football known overseas and even making a version playable on the pitch of the most played code in the world, shows that despite being, as Sam Duncan said “the King of the Sporting Castle”, the AFL has this inexplicable sense on inferiority and fear, as it was expressed by Mick Malthouse in an article recently.

I HAVE have been shocked by some disturbing numbers that I came across recently.

In at least three elite Victorian colleges, more students are playing soccer than Aussie Rules football.

If that’s not alarming for the AFL, then I don’t know what is………..

 

But here we are decades later and, suddenly, soccer is a genuine threat to football.

Soccer is an international sport with some very promotable role models in Australia — think Tim Cahill.

Victoria’s population is increasing by 100,000 people a year and many of them are either from overseas or have a strong connection to a country where soccer is the main sport. The Socceroos can play in the World Cup and at the Olympics, and Australians litter the English Premier League and Champions League.

This fear of the round ball is baffling.  We have seen with the advent of womens’ AFL the amount of media that the AFL can muster.  While the National Team won a difficult match in the United Arab Emirates, something that in most other parts of the world  would have been on the back page (if not in the front) of newspapers, in Australia it was hidden in the back after pages and pages of final footy reports.

And that’s what irks some soccer followers.  That despite the huge attention the AFL gets in the media, the free to air TV its has, and the subsequent amount of publicity it can generate, it is still not enough.  It is prepared to use its considerable financial might to stifle areas where the A-League has tried to create a niche for itself.  Why? Because of this irrational fear it is ‘taking over’?  The fact that Australian Football is not an international sport not only must irk the AFL, but also it makes it fearful of this ‘international force’.

The AFL most likely hasn’t heard the saying by Julius Caesar: “Malo hic esse primus quam Romae secundus” which translates as “Better be first in a village than second in Rome”.

I think the AFL should be content to be the ‘King of the Australian Sporting Castle’, something that it will not change,  rather than acting like an imperialist power trying to suffocate all and sundry.  It should enjoy its prominence in the big village of Australia, rather than delude itself it can be anything outside it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

As a soccer fan, I think #AFLWomensGame is a great development.

This is an excerpt from a post I wrote a couple of months ago about how, as a predominantly Association Football fan, I had to ‘fight’ my basest code wars instincts.

This is about the creation of an AFL women’s competition. As it is in the news at the moment I thought it would be opportune to present it as a separate post.

Women AFL competition

FOOTBALL-AFL-AUS-WOMEN
PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images

The first thing I have to say is that the introduction of a women’s AFL competition is a great thing.  But I can’t help feeling that the AFL, in its perception of grandeur, of being the ‘most important code in Australia’ has annoyingly hyped this to the max.

I was not the only one that felt this way.  Greg Baum who is a senior sport writer at The Age tweeted:

And another sport writer, Richard Hinds, responded jokingly

By reading all the hoopla generated by AFL House it seems that there was no other football code being played in Australia before they came on the scene and gave all this ‘opportunities’ for women to play.

Why do I feel somewhat peeved? Is it because I feel (a bit like the AFL ‘discovering’ Western Sydney) all of a sudden the AFL wants to involve women only when it looks it may be good financially and don’t want to lose to other codes?

Somewhat I felt like another totally bicodal journalist about this.

But then I think so what?  Even if they come late any sport that gives more exposure to women athletes (which is a big issue) is a good thing.  The AFL with its media exposure and money can do this very well.  Ultimately it is a positive thing if  women feel they can go out there and play sport, any sport and be valued as athletes for it.

So I think the last word goes to sport journalist Angela Pippos

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Olympics my out of field proposals

Olympic_Summer_Games_1968_Opening
By Sergio Rodriguez (Own work, upload pr OTRS) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

So the Rio Olympics are in its last days and I have been thinking about future games.

How can we make the games a bit more down to earth? I got a few ideas.

Heaps of sports have been clamouring for inclusion such as competitive ball room dancing (cleverly re-named ‘Dancesports’) and even Pole Dancing.  Being included in the Olympics gives a sport a huge boost in visibility and respectability.

But the trend seems to have gone the other way by the fact that sports with already a big profile outside the Olympics, such as Golf and Tennis have been added, in the hope that sports with high visibility would attract the sponsorship.

I think a major consideration to include a sport is whether countries with the lowest GDP could be in it.   Many sports such as equestrian events, swimming, and perhaps sailing are too expensive for many countries.  This is reflected by the fact that rarely if ever we see African countries with relatively low GDPs winning in these events while we do in the track, which requires low levels of infrastructure.

So what sports I would I add?

Tug of War

Tug of war was contested as a team event in the Summer Olympics at every Olympiad from 1900 to 1920..  Yes a quirky sport that now resides in images of school fetes and summer English fairs like on Midsomer Murders.

But now it is a well established sport and best of all it doesn’t require lots of equipment.Tick.  Doesn’t look like it requires huge amounts of money to participate. Tick. It is easy to watch on TV. Tick

Who wouldn’t want to see an Olympic sport that people drinking in pubs could think ‘I could do that’ ? It would be huge.

Orienteering

When I mentioned to introduce orienteering in the Olympics in a tweet I didn’t get much positive reactions.

 

But orienteering is a very skillful and demanding sport.  It involves running using a map and compass to navigate from point to point in diverse and usually unfamiliar terrain. Participants are given a map which they use to find control points.

Again it appears to me to be a low cost sport that can be open to most nations.

The reason why it was rejected as an Olympic sport was because of one thing: Television.  The Olympics are really a global TV event more than anything and orienteering is neither television- nor spectator-friendly, the venue of competition is often necessarily remote from major cities, and the duration of the event is longer than most other individual competitions. So it presents challenges for broadcasters and spectators to easily follow the competition, and there’s the main issue with orienteering.

But then I thought that technology now would allow remote small cameras to be positioned in strategic positions.  If we have cameras at Mountain Biking, cross country skiing and even in front of a formula one car, surely we can televise an event in the bush.  Sponsors logos could be displayed at each point.  They’d love it!

1-control-point-orienteering.jpg

Mixed Martial Arts (Modern Pankration)

pankration

While Tug of War and Orienteering are gentle sports, we need something that harks back to the Ancient Olympiads in Greece.

The founder of the modern Olympics, Pierre de Coubertin, imbued in them very lofty ideals, but in the ancient Olympics games were  often brutal and one of these sport was the Pankration.

Pankration, which literary means ‘all force’, was a combination of wrestling and boxing. It was a dangerous sport, in which everything was permitted except biting, gouging (stabbing with your finger in your opponent’s eye, nose or mouth) and attacking the genitals.

It seems to me that MMA doesn’t sound too dissimilar from Pankration, so if we have modern versions of ancient games such as the Modern Pentathlon why not a Modern Pankration?

An advantage of a MMA type sport is its popularity is across the world.  The following table shows countries ranking in 2015.

Now I’ve no idea what all that data means, but it appears to me that this sport is popular across the world and as such would be perfect for the Olympic Games.

MMA.jpg

However there is no denying that MMA is a ‘full on sport’ not for the faint hearted.  If even a ‘gentler’ version of boxing has had the Australian Medical Association calling for a ban at the Olympics imagine how images of competitors of doing the ‘Ground and Pound’ would go down amongst the more sensitive amongst us. Would this be something that parents may be comfortable their children seeing a competitor being knocked unconscious by a kick and then being set upon and punched until there is blood coming out of the mouth or nose?  Not exactly the image the Olympic movement wants to portray I think.  The Modern Pankration, like amateur boxing may have to be modified from its professional MMA version, although what the genuine devotees of MMA would think of this I don’t know. Some have argued that without the extreme aspect of the sport you  may as well leave it to current martial art Olympic sports such as  judo, taekwondo, boxing and wrestling.  Also in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Karate will be included, so it seems that the ‘mixed martial arts’ are in the Olympics but just not mixed.

 

I am not a fan of MME or martial arts in general.  Must admit that having it in the Olympics would be just entertaining seeing the outrage. It would attract lots of attention.  And while it is brutal, these are superb athletes and no one is forcing them to do MME.  They do it out of their free will. They know the risks and how to protect themselves.

Brisbane 2028

ananas

When the decision where the 2000 Olympics was going to be held was to be announced I was in Italy.  I remember watching a sport program on  TV and there were Italian athletes and journalists and when they were asked where they thought the Olympics should be held, while all the journalists went for Beijing (being more ‘exciting’) all the athletes went for Sydney.

Many have been to Australia already for competitions and they knew what a perfect place it was for Sport.

Brisbane is a perfect place for the athletes. Not only Australia has proven time and time again that it is a top notch place when it comes to organise sporting events, but it is clean, safe and with a population who loves sport.

No issues with polluted water for the open swimming events.  The ocean is beautiful. Crime rates are relatively low.  The climate around September-October is perfect. We will see with the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games what a great event it will be.

Are you serious?

Of course I have been a bit tongue in cheek in this post. But underlying it there are a serious issues.  The point is that the Olympics have grown to be gigantic monsters that while may attract prestige and the world’s attention for 2 weeks they have become hideously expensive often leaving cities into debt.

My argument about sports such as Tug of War and Orienteering is that these are accessible sports that while perfect to adhere to an Olympic ideal of allowing maximum participation will not be at the Olympics because they lack ‘star’ quality or are difficult to televise.

Sports like Golf (that require huge areas of land for the course) and Tennis (who have already a well established professional circuit which rewards its champions with millions) have been added to appease sponsors who want the ‘big stars’ at the Olympics.

Sports like MMA will not happen because despite being hugely popular there are limits of what the Olympics image will accept. Nosebands and double bridles cause unnecessary pain and suffering to horses during equestrian events, which have no say in it, while MMA athletes who are perfectly willing and aware of the risks involved may not fit the ‘image’.

Cities like Brisbane who could host Olympics which are athletes oriented will be shunned for those with air pollution problems such as Beijing, or social ones such as Rio de Jaineiro because of their profile and geopolitical power games.

An article in today’s Sunday Age by Greg Baum explains it.

It is hard not to conclude that dazzling as they are, the Olympic Games have failed in their mission. They take more than they give, meantime asking us to be willingly credulous. They must start again. Perversely enough, straitened Rio might have shown the way. What these Games lack might crystallise to some extent what was excessive and superfluous anyway.

The opening ceremony showed how less can be more. The gravy train looked to have slowed. The IOC nabobs were less ostentatiously obvious here than their FIFA counterparts two years ago. Way down the chain, amenities in the press rooms, for instance, were more spartan, and yet we got by. Duchessing media is a bit of an Olympic Games staple, but not in Rio, and kudos to the cariocas for that.

The question is whether the Olympics may suffer from the same sense of anger we have seen through Brexit and Donald Trump.  Will there be an increase of the proportion of people around the world that will resent seeing huge amounts of money being spent on things such as the Olympics while their own financial situation is getting worse.

If the Olympics are to become sustainable they must stop being an expensive two weeks sugar hit for cities and sponsors.  Athletes want to compete and all they need is adequate facilities and support. And perhaps simple accessible relatively inexpensive sports such as tug of war are not such a bad idea after all.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Musings

When I have to fight my #codewar instinct.

I pride myself to be ‘bicodal’.  I have to admit I derive a sense of smugness in the ability of following Australian Rules Football (in the form of the AFL) and Association Football (aka soccer) mainly with the A-League, but also as an Italian born the Serie A.

My best sporting memories have been with aussie rules.  Feeling welcomed in Melbourne after a rocky start migrating to Sydney.  Following the VFL (as it was then) was an integral part of finally feeling that I was living in a city where I could belong.  The fact that we moved to Carlton, following the local team was an important factor.

I still follow Carlton, although not as assiduously as I did when I was 17.  And I kept my membership.

DSCN3284

Of course I also maintained my interest in Association Football. With the National team, with Carlton Soccer Club and afterwards with Melbourne Victory.

With this attitude I eschew any ‘codewars’.  Although sometimes I have to confess I do indulge it on social media.  But I see that as a bit of banter or pisstake or if flagged propely as good natured trolling.

But  I will react when I perceive Association Football being attacked by unwarranted soccerphobia.

Codes will of course compete for fans, ratings, best athletes etc.  But this is no different from running businesses in a market economy.  Overall I think we in Australia can count ourselves lucky that we are able to follow more than one code in national competitions.

However there are cases where I also have to fight the codewars demons.  Situations where my rational brain has to suppress the emotional one.  Where I have to stop myself on social media.

Which are these?

Western Sydney – Greater Western Sydney Giants vs. Western Sydney Wanderers

 

AFL Rd 16 - GWS v Collingwood
Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Whether it is Western Sydney, or ‘the Shire’, it seems that sport executives are desperate to put teams ‘where the fish are’.  The issue is whether the fish are interested in the first place.

The issue of whether the AFL could place a successful team in Western Sydney was bubbling for a while.

And so the advent of the Greater Western Sydney Giants.  As a Victorian sometimes it feels that the whole of Australia is run from that part of Australia.  Politicians seems to make their decision according to ‘what the battlers of Western Sydney will think’.  During the election campaign both parties placed plenty of resources and time there.

Of course it is one of the fastest growing areas in Australia and it was inevitable that the honchos of the AFL wanted to put a team there.  But I can’t get rid of the feeling that somehow the AFL is trying to muscle in an area which has been (at least since after WW2) a soccer loving Non English Speaking area….’our patch’…

I am not from Sydney, so I stand to be corrected.  But to me Western Sydney is not that dissimilar from Western Melbourne. A part of the city where working class migrants lived there because close to the factories where they worked and where it was cheaper to live.

An area where the rest of the population would look down to and ignored because of it’s ‘undesirability’ but now because of its economic and political power has become a centre of attention.

These were the areas where migrants set up their soccer clubs with their own hands.  Where they got up early on weekends to get the team and the pitches ready for the teams.Where they trained their children.  This is a territory where Association Football became an integral cultural expression of many migrant communities.

Ignored for decades, once it became economically significant..puff! like magic it was discovered by the AFL which with its financial might is putting a huge amount of resources in the GWS.

But then I think: Why not?  If the AFL wants to give the opportunity to the people of Western Sydney to support a team in a game which I personally think is a really good one, that’s great. And besides.  The A-League and the AFL don’t overlap much.  I follow both Carlton and Melbourne Victory.  There is no reason why someone from Western Sydney can follow both the GSW and the WSW.  No sport has a oligopoly on any areas. They have the right to place teams and have a go at making them successful.

Women AFL competition

 

FOOTBALL-AFL-AUS-WOMEN
PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images

The first thing I have to say is that the introduction of a women’s AFL competition is a great thing.  But I can’t help feeling that the AFL, in its perception of grandeur, of being the ‘most important code in Australia’ has annoyingly hyped this to the max.

I was not the only one that felt this way.  Greg Baum who is a senior sport writer at The Age tweeted:

And another sport writer, Richard Hinds, responded jokingly

By reading all the hoopla generated by AFL House it seems that there was no other football code being played in Australia before they came on the scene and gave all this ‘opportunities’ for women to play.

Why do I feel somewhat peeved? Is it because I feel (a bit like the AFL ‘discovering’ Western Sydney) all of a sudden the AFL wants to involve women only when it looks it may be good financially and don’t want to lose to other codes?

Somewhat I felt like another totally bicodal journalist about this.

But then I think so what?  Even if they come late any sport that gives more exposure to women athletes (which is a big issue) is a good thing.  The AFL with its media exposure and money can do this very well.  Ultimately it is a positive thing if  women feel they can go out there and play sport, any sport and be valued as athletes for it.

So I think the last word goes to sport journalist Angela Pippos

 AFL overseas competitions

 

If perhaps there is one thing that I haven’t yet come around not to be dismissive about, is the effort for the AFL to have an international dimension.

Of course there is no reason why any sport wouldn’t want to spread its wings and make itself knows overseas.  And really the AFL itself plays a straight bat.  It’s some of its advocates that tend to guild the lily a little bit.  Although sometimes I am not sure whether they are taking the piss themselves, or they really believe it.

I wrote about this four year ago and despite trying to see it more from the other point of view I really haven’t changed my position all that much.

Again by all means it’s great that the AFL makes Australian Rules football known overseas, it is a great game.  But I again I can’t help it being somewhat bemused by what I regard over estimating how popular a game indigenous to Australia can became overseas.

When I go on social media and have a bit of a (good-natured) dig at this I often get responses such as ‘x amount of players/teams exist in <insert country>’.  Yes of course.  But is Aussie Rules going to become more popular than lacrosse here in Australia overseas?  Then I think.  Even if some advocates to overestimate a bit.  Does it really matter?  It is a great sport and people playing sport is always good. Whatever that is.

iceland

Another example is the big fanfare about Port Adelaide being involved with China.

That’s great.  There was great coverage in the media, even saw a bit of commentary in Chinese.

However the fact that Newcastle Jet was purchased by the Ledman Group, a leading high-tech LED signage manufacturer, operator and integrated sports business headquartered in Shenzhen China, this  was hardly news.

Let’s leave the issue of whether the purchase by Ledman may be a good or a bad thing. We have to admit that the Newcastle Jets have a lower profile than Port Adelaide, as the A-League has a lower profile than the AFL.

Why the fact that when and AFL team creates links with China is news and we get articles, comments and videos, but when another Australian team from another code is actually purchased by a Chinese consortium there is hardly a ripple?  Would Chinese interest, or any overseas interest (viz. Melbourne City) be interested in purchasing an AFL team?

But maybe I am being petty.  The reason why Port Adelaide and China is news is precisely because Australian Rules is virtually unknown in China, while Association Football is one of their national sport. By the fact that soccer is the ‘world game’, overseas interest in an A-League team goes with the territory.

 

So will I continue to suppress my inner code war instincts?  Yes I will.  But always be tempted (and sometimes yield) to some code war banter once is a while.

3 Comments

Filed under Football, Uncategorized

#Brexit viewed from #Italy

BELGIUM-EU-POLITICS-BREXIT

Italy’s Prime minister Matteo Renzi gestures as he arrives before an EU summit meeting on June 28, 2016 at the European Union headquarters in Brussels on June 28, 2016. / AFP / PHILIPPE HUGUEN (Photo credit  PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)

As stated by the previous post I have been fascinated by the fallout of the UK referendum on European Union membership. I’ve read voraciously about it. This is what the internet allows you to do. But another thing about the internet is that if you can read another language often you are allowed to see things from another perspective.

This is especially the case about Brexit. Reading Italian media I got a different sense of this event.

If they want to go, let them.

Many commentators congratulated Britain for making a choice. It was recognised that it was a democratic choice and if that’s what they want to do is up to them. There was a sense that the EU can survive without the UK (as long as France and Germany are in it).

Italy is not part of the domino

Some say that Italy may be part of the next domino to request a referendum and thus leave the EU. There are certainly plenty of Eurosceptic in Italy, or even anti EU, but I sense there isn’t a big move against it. Italy has been part of the EU since its inception as the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1957, unlike Britain that was a reluctant participant from 1972.

Besides a referendum would be difficult as under the Italian constitution they can only be carried out to:

  • Repeal a law or laws
  • To alter constitutional legislation
  • To join regions together or create new ones
  • To move a province or city to another region

There is no provision to ask Italian citizens to do a type of referendum like the one carried out in Britain. This would need a change to the constitution itself (which can be done by Parliament in certain circumstances) and that presents its own problems.

The interesting aspect is what will be the attitude of ‘new parties’ which have arisen out of the dissatisfaction of the old ones, and this is especially the 5 Stars Movement. This party wants to call itself a ‘movement’ rather than a party as it wants to distance itself from the old order. It arose from an idea of Beppe Grillo, who is a satirical comedian who made jokes about the Italian political system.

While it may seem strange that a comic started a political movement it is not surprising given that the political situation in Italy was locked amongst two parties which seemed to do little apart from attaching themselves to as many ministries as possible. Grillo decried this situation for years and started a movement that quickly snowballed into a political party much to everyone’s (and I think Grillo himself) surprise. In the recent elections for mayor the 5 stars movement won the capital, Rome and a major city of the north Turin.

As a protest movement 5 Stelle has attracted support from a wide range of people. Imagine ranging from Jacquie Lambie to Tony Windsor and you may have an idea. But a positive thing is that unlike other parts of Europe it has channeled  the anger and dissatisfaction towards it, rather than going to some nasty right wing groups. Its stance is to remain in the EU and with other like minded European groups work to reform it from within. It is however against the Euro which they see it as a disaster and would like a referendum to abolish the law that has instituted it in Italy. Their policy is outlined here.

It pushes Italy up the ladder

While Italy has major financial problems, it is nevertheless a major economy. The exit of the United Kingdom (which was second after Germany) means that Italy goes from the fourth biggest economy in the EU to third after Germany and France.

This was reflected at a press conference ahead of the EU summit meeting where the Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi was invited with Merkel and Hollande. I think Renzi beamed like he scored the goal to win the Euro football championship for the Azzurri.

GERMANY-EU-BRITAIN-DIPLOMACY

(Photo credit JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)

Let’s face it. The UK was a bit of a nuisance.

Sergio Romano is an editor in the Corriere della Sera, one of the major newspapers in Italy. He also has been the Italian ambassador in Russia. In his opinion while the UK was one of the most important countries in the EU, it often obstructed more integration because it feared about its sovereignty, or feared that it would diminish its global importance. According to Romano the push to include Easter European countries was a strategy by John Major to weaken the EU. Which remarkably is almost exactly what this clip from ‘Yes Minister’ says.

So according to Romano, without the UK placing impediments, the EU will be free to continue its program of integration. Although if we see what happened with the Euro, I am not sure many Europeans will be that willing to go down this path.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized