The resignation of Prime Minister Romano Prodi and the continuing uncertainty dominating
Prime Minister Romano Prodi and the continuing uncertainty dominating
After Prodi's 20 months as prime minister, the main economic and political challenges remain largely unresolved, the deep level of political polarization demonstrated in the 2006 election remains unchanged, and
With one of the world's lowest birth rates,
Some of the best and brightest of
In the corporate realm, many of
However, many small and medium size companies, largely responsible for the nation's post-war economic success, are failing or simply unable to compete with cheaper Asian products and labor costs.
For a society which has enjoyed generous state benefits and entitlements for many decades, amending or revoking what is considered a public benefit and expectation will be extremely difficult.
This engenders not only an economic change but a cultural one in a country where dependence upon the state prevails in many quarters and remains significantly rooted in the political culture.
Simply put, reform is inevitable.
The longer it takes, the more difficult is the task and the greater the sacrifices required.
Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi currently leads in polls and has threatened mass demonstrations to ensure a snap election. He remains the only figure able to unite disparate forces on the right.
Although the left technically achieved victory in 2006, the narrow margin deprived Prodi of a popular mandate and political uncertainty complicated the need for the emergence of a strong government capable of guiding
Leading factions on the left have consolidated into a single entity, the Democratic Party, under the leadership of
Despite these consolidations smaller parties are still able to threaten the survival of any government under the current electoral system.Before the next elections, it is necessary to form a temporary technocratic government with the specific mandate of reforming the electoral law and preventing the repetition of the status quo in which small parties are able to hold a coalition government hostage.
Should the small parties impede this possibility, then the major parties should consider the formation of a temporary grand coalition of the center with the primary purpose of implementing electoral reforms.
Neither Prodi nor Berlusconi could head such a coalition, due principally to deep-seated personal animosities, the polarizing nature of both personalities, and the wider public rift. A highly respected apolitical technocrat would be the most likely candidate.
Failure to agree on electoral reform would result in another time-consuming and divisive election that would change little in the short-term and would contribute to further uncertainty with significant economic and political consequences, both domestically and internationally.
In Europe and throughout the world,
Italy remains a nation unable to unleash its wealth of talent, much of which continues to seek opportunities abroad, significantly hurting the nation's competitiveness and growth.
No matter how many elections are held, the status quo will not change until the necessary political and economic reforms are enacted and backed by a serious commitment to implement them.
Marco Vicenzino is the founder and director of the Global Strategy Project in