Politics: Italy’s leading industry?

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Politics: Italy’s leading industry?

29 Maggio 2007

Addressing the annual assembly of
Confindustria in Rome, its President Luca Cordero di Montezemolo drew a rather
grim picture of Italy’s political class. In what seemed like an outright
manifesto which could represent Montezemolo’s first step into the political
fray, Confindustria’s chairman denounced “the self-referential nature of
political power, which smothers any impulse toward reform within both the right
and the left” and the “proliferating costs of political power”,
generated by the politicians’ endless “floating on the water and waiting
for the next election”.

In the presence of fourteen
ministers, various leaders of the majority, the opposition and trade unions,
and 3,000 top business leaders, he further pointed out that politics
“cannot be Italy’s leading industry with 180,000 elected representatives,
more than France, the United Kingdom and Spain put together, for a total
expense of four billion euros”, and asked himself how many nursery schools
we could build with the salaries of 18,000 members of public body and company
boards. Italy,  Montezemolo argued, is tired of all this, its
people “is better than some politicians think it is”, and its s ociety
demands projects and understands the need to take brave decision, whose effects
may not be visible in the short term, but which will set apart those who
“have a real sense of State”. Going on with a “private use of
public resources”, he warned, brings closer the risk to become “a
do-it-yourself country where people prefer an absent central government to an
active one”.

We need a politics – he concluded –
that is strong on ideas and able to propose solutions and scenarios”. A
leadership “that can start again talking about duties and
responsibilities. A country that can rediscover its identity in a shared sense
of mission. Montezemolo has later denied his imminent entrance in the political
ring. Part of the Italian press has interpreted his speech as an attempt to
cover, with a political manifesto, his less than brilliant results as president
of Confindustria. However, il Corriere della Sera has repeatedly sponsored his
political involvement, suggesting he could be thinking about taking this step
soon enough.