Italy’s promised economic reforms may be stalling out, leaving the world’s eighth largest economy stuck in the mud and with diminishing options. The Wall Street Journal reports:
Powerful lobbies and vested interests have defanged the government’s push to reduce the country’s bloated public spending, revamp its rigid labor laws, and rewrite electoral rules to create more political stability. Now, the anticipated resignation of the country’s president next month—and the political haggling over his successor—will further delay legislative debate over a slate of reforms. […][Prime Minister Matteo Renzi] has run into steep hurdles. Stonewalling in parliament has forced him to repeatedly call votes of confidence to push his bills through and water down plans to reform Italy’s labor laws and electoral rules. Unions staged a general strike this month to protest a proposal to make it easier for companies to dismiss workers, and violent protests have erupted across Italy, pushing Mr. Renzi’s popularity to its lowest levels so far.
Italy is ultimately a bigger worry than Greece; its problems expose the weakness at the core of the eurozone strategy. Italy, and some other countries, simply can’t carry out the reforms needed to make the euro work. Italians are a very capable people, but they cannot turn themselves into Greater Bavaria. Culture is deeper than that and harder to change.What Europe needed and needs from the EU is a way for the different peoples and cultures of the continent to live together in peace. But what the bureaucrats in Brussels and the EU enthusiasts have insisted on is an EU that will try to make them all live in the same way. The euro is the most radical of the EU policies that require the cultural homogenization of the continent in order to succeed.It isn’t working.