Italy - the end of democracy?

An interesting article by Norman Lamont (who is a former senior government minister in Britain)

"…Given the disdain for democracy that is regularly displayed by Europe’s political class, the deepening political crisis in Italy is all too predictable. Yet again, we are seeing the pro-Brussels establishment showing that it will not tolerate any challenge to its project of political integration. In the mindset of the governing elite, the European orthodoxy must prevail, even when it means riding roughshod over the wishes of voters.

That domineering mentality lies at the heart of the drama in Italy, the Eurozone’s third- largest economy, where a coalition with widespread public support has effectively been barred from office because of Eurosceptic views. In the recent Italian election, the two most successful parties were the hard-Right League and the maverick Left-leaning Five Star movement. One might not like all their policies — I don’t — but they undoubtedly won the election. Both campaigned strongly against Brussels diktats on immigration and budgets.

But their attempt to form a Government was thwarted this week when the country’s President, arch-Europhile Sergio Mattarella, vetoed the proposed appointment of the distinguished economist Paolo Savona as finance minister. The justification was Mr Savona’s record of doubts about the euro which, it was claimed, ‘could provoke Italy’s exit from the EU’.

Denied presidential backing for a crucial position, the Five Star/League alliance had to abandon its plans for office. An interim administration has been proposed under Carlo Cottarelli, a pro-EU economist and former IMF official, who is, of course, far more acceptable to Brussels.

This turn of events perfectly illustrates the disturbing reality of European politics, where adherence to the ruling dogma counts for far more than any mandate from the people. In the mindset of the Eurocrats, democracy is acceptable as long as it produces the ‘correct’ result. The German EU Commissioner, Gunther Oettinger, yesterday suggested that the markets would soon be sending Italy a message about the consequences of voting for ‘populists’. We have seen such statements and attitudes time and again in the history of the EU.

Progressive opinion might be celebrating the outcome of last weekend’s abortion referendum in Ireland, but it was a different story in the previous decade. Then the Irish people twice voted against EU treaties: in 2001 against the Nice Treaty (which allowed the expansion of the EU to the east) and in 2008 against the Lisbon Treaty (which gave stronger powers to the European parliament). The pro-EU establishment refused to accept these results, forcing the Irish people to vote again so they would come up with the right answers.

That process was at work in Greece during their debt crisis in 2015, when the Athens government was forced to backtrack on economic plans that had the strong support of the electorate, which had rejected the savage austerity proposed by the EU.

Similarly in Britain, the pro-EU brigade has continually agitated against Brexit, urging that the result of the EU referendum should be ignored, or reversed in a second vote.

The conflict between democracy and the EU is inevitable because the European project is based on the erosion of national sovereignty. Lacking popular support, the work of building the desired political union can proceed only by bullying and deception.

Pro-EU ideologues continually taint their opponents with the word ‘populism’ — a term they use as a form of abuse meaning ignorance.

I have been sceptical about European political integration all my political career. I believe in democratic national independence rather than governance by an unaccountable bureaucracy…"

Article for article and relevant not just to this particular post (and similar ones) but to many recent discussions, I think the Lingq Forum is becoming a textbook example of the phenomenon described here:

I mean, Francisco, you could always explain exactly what it is about Lamont’s view that you think is wrong?

Or, could it be that even one such as your good self (i.e. one who believes in the EU project) is slowly beginning to become uneasy about its behaviour…? :slight_smile:

It seems to me that this question isn’t even fundamentally about whether one is pro or anti-EU - rather it is about democracy.

One could imagine an opposite scenario. Let’s suppose that an election were held in the Ukraine and a clear majority of people voted for parties who wanted that country to join the EU. Would it be okay if the president just said “no, we’re not having any anti-Russian populism here!” And appointed instead a pro-Russia government!?

Yes, I know you are going to say it is an inexact analogy. But still, the basic point stands: is it okay for some super-democratic person or institution to ignore a majority result, just because it is inconvenient or unwanted? And if that is okay, where exactly does that road lead to?

It seems to me it is entirely fair to ask the question whether this is the end of democracy in Italy?

(And notice that posing a question is intended to stimulate discussion, and not to assert any particular final viewpoint.)

I haven’t said anything about Lamont or care about what he might say or about all these deaf dialogues in which some push a prestige agenda and others push the opposite getting personal and mean in the process. All in a forum that’s supposed to be about language learning. The article I posted is about that all too common phenomenon, which is what I find interesting, if unfortunate

I have no interest in reading this article… I am not going to delete it but I feel it is not in the spirit of this forum, where we mostly talk about language and language learning issues.


“…I have no interest in reading this article…”

Well, then don’t read it, Steve!

Nobody is suggesting you (or anyone else who isn’t interested) should read it…er, are they?? :-0

“…I am not going to delete it…”

Really? Are you sure, Steve? I mean, it’s really shocking and controversial to discuss major political issues of the day, isn’t it? And an article by a former British chancellor of the exchequer which actually attacks the EU! That’s almost bordering on blasphemy, really…

And It’s not as if political discussions is something that YOU have EVER done here, after all, is it? (Well, apart from all of your numerous posts from months past ranting about Trump and Putin, etc, etc, etc…)

“…but I feel it is not in the spirit of this forum, where we mostly talk about language and language learning issues…”

Sorry, I guess nobody told me about the NEW policy, Steve.

That’s why I assumed that those who want to could still discuss politics here - as you yourself USED TO explicitly allow.


I do kind of resent this implication that I have been “getting personal and mean”, Francisco.

As far as I am aware I have always addressed you in a respectful way - notwithstanding that we probably don’t agree too much about politics.

There’s a reason for that too - I have enormous and genuine respect for your linguistic accomplishments which are truly impressive. Unlike many of the look-at-me polyglots (including Steve for that matter) you are able to write your numerous languages correctly and articulately. This is, so to speak, the gold standard for polyglots - and the mark of real mastery.

I’m very sorry if my post came across as any kind of personal attack to you. I also feel a lot of respect for you, @Jay. Maybe that’s why I react more strongly to your posts?? I don’t know.
Notice that I added a similar comment on the Roseanne Barr’s thread and I could’ve said the same about many other recent (and some less recent) threads. I myself am guilty of some of the older ones, btw, so this is as much a self-criticism.
Anyway I was criticizing a certain form of conversation that, IMHO, is making the Forum lingq a much worse place to communicate a common interest than it could be.

I’m not Steve but I had a similar reaction to him. I’m not against political discussion and much less in favor of censorship. Notice that Steve didn’t delete this thread so it doesn’t count as such.
But I do feel that this forum is becoming corrupted and vulgarized by a particular kind of “no-conversation” which is the typical one all across the internet: you scour the news for issues that make your own side look good or the opposite one look bad and ignore or downplay those that produce the opposite effect: the game is to score prestige points for your particular tribe. When someone thinks differently, the typical slurs about those of the other side begin to show up and people tend to get dirty and personal (not all do).
This is bad for any kind of sensible discussion but lethal for communities that aim at providing constructive support and reflection in order to improve in a real-world task (such as learning languages) as opposed to just re-run prestige battles.
That’s my concern in this issue and I suppose it’s also Steve’s. I think it’s legitimage
I linked to an article about how most discussion groups degenerate due to dynamics such as these. The article doesn’t score any points for either liberals or conservatives, so I do understand that it gets ignored but I still think it’s worth reading.

All best to everyone

I think that’s close to the Paradox of tolerance described by Karl Popper in The Open Society and Its Enemies Vol. 1.

“Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. — In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.”

The paradox states that if a society is tolerant without limit, their ability to be tolerant will eventually be seized or destroyed by the intolerant. Popper came to the seemingly paradoxical conclusion that in order to maintain a tolerant society, the society must be intolerant of intolerance.


"The country’s President, arch-Europhile Sergio Mattarella, vetoed the proposed appointment of the distinguished economist Paolo Savona as finance minister. "

The president has a power of veto. Executing the power is not necessarily “undemocratic.” “End of democracy” seems to be an exaggerated expression.

“Both [“the hard-Right League and the maverick Left-leaning Five Star movement”] campaigned strongly against Brussels diktats on immigration and budgets.”

"The conflict between democracy and the EU is inevitable because the European project is based on the erosion of national sovereignty. "

Natinal soverenty is not absolute. The same conflict happens when local democracy is restricted by “national” democracy. In some cases, international laws and institutions are supposed to control the behavior of independent countries in order to protect people who are living in each country. I don’t know much about what Norman Lamont calls “Brussels diktats” I think that direct democracy and some sort of “representative” democracy are complementary at each level of political collectivities.

There are a lot of multinational corporations or transnational corporations in the globalized world. All countries are influenced by the behavior of MNCs or TNCs, and they are forced to compete with each other. If they really want to maintain national sovereignty, they have to cooperate in some way. “Italy First” does not make sense.

Don’t tell me to watch a lot of video clips without showing their descriptions.
You are welcome if you summerise the source in your own words, and keep it simple.

Nobody here knows what democracy actually is and how it actually operates. Including the guy in the paper article.

“Nobody here knows what democracy actually is and how it actually operates. Including the guy in the paper article.”

And? Let’s hear it for Comerchant!

Comerchant_Shkelberg once wrote:
“The best thing to do is not engage in serious discussion with these people [what Comerchant calls “liberals”] because they are intellectually dishonest and don’t want discussion, they merely want everyone to agree with them.”

Is this how democracy actually operates?
Do you think that you are intellectually honest and want discussion? Let’s hear it for Comerchant_Shkelberg!