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Wednesday 23 June 2021

Recommended Speaking of politics with Marco Follini

Speaking of politics with Marco Follini

Author of the content

I met Marco Follini in the late 80s in Viale Mazzini. Christian Democrat since he was a boy, he had been the youth secretary of that party before sitting on the board of directors of RAI. Deputy in 1996 he succeeded Pierfrancesco Casini as Secretary of the Christian Democratic Center and then Secretary of the Union of Christian Democrats (UDC), the party that was born from the fusion of CCD, CDU and DE. He was Vice President of the Council of Ministers of the Berlusconi government in 2004, but the following year he resigned for dissent with the premier. Elected senator in 2006, in the same year he founded the political movement “L'Italia di mezzo” which the following year merged with the Democratic Party. He was re-elected senator in the 2008 general elections, but in June 2013 he abandoned the PD. Since June 2014 he has been president of the Television Producers Association (APT).

Europe's support will be realized on the condition that some reforms of particular importance and complexity, such as that of justice and public administration, are carried out. Which culture should be inspired by a reformist policy to solve the country's problems?

The reforms we are talking about are those destined to bring us closer to other European countries, overcoming some of the anomalies that have slowed and / or diverted our country's progress. The goal, therefore, is European, the landing place is there. Of course, Europe is not just a flowery meadow, nor a model that does not itself require many adjustments and rethinks. But it has always been an opportunity for us to improve some traits of our civil personality - let's call it that.

I do not want and cannot go into too specific. But it is clear that we have on our shoulders the weight of too much bureaucracy and too slow and obscure public administration. Defects and opacities with which governments of the most diverse political colors have clashed in vain and which today require a less spectacular but more incisive reform action than those attempted so far.

But it is above all in the field of justice, and in particular of civil justice, that we must work even more incisively. Here too a problem of timing arises above all. In fact, the delays in this sector have an economic cost which is becoming unbearable and which constitutes a great brake on investment.

Last but not least, there is the theme of the perverse intertwining between political disputes and judicial events. It is a gigantic issue, which undermines the trust of public opinion and ends up sowing poisons everywhere. It is clear that it is not the detailed interventions, much less the ad personam laws, that resolve the issue. But it is, in fact, a crucial question to which the new ruling classes will not be able to call themselves strangers. Nor innocent, if we continue to do nothing.

The formation of the Draghi government stems from the inability of parties and movements to build political solutions to the crisis that they themselves have determined with parliamentary majorities without a common political and / or programmatic basis. What changes can be expected in the near future of Italian politics, after the Draghi government and after the end of the pandemic, what will be the scenario we will face?

In the end, the parties will decide for themselves and for what is after Draghi. But in the meantime we have to cross this ford and many things depend on how we cross it.

I think that parties today have two paths ahead of them. One is to focus on the present. The other is to think about the future. The egg today or the chicken tomorrow, so to speak. If we think about the present, it is obvious that the parties will try to each pull their own stretch of rope, maximizing the reasons for conflict and deluding themselves that they can make a difference to their own advantage. It seems a way too beaten and crowded. But it's actually a dead end. In fact, if the government becomes the battlefield of opposing partialities, it doesn't go far. If only because all those partialities have been denied and minimized by the bad evidence that the parties have offered of themselves.

If, on the other hand, we think about the future, in my opinion we can even take advantage of the difficulties we are going through. I believe that the parties must take the opportunity of their current marginality to rethink themselves. To give themselves identities and strategies they no longer have. To go in search of consents and ties (ties, above all) that they have lost.

Once the parties were of the cities. With imposing but not impregnable buildings, suburban houses and connecting roads between all its buildings. Now the parties are hotels. Places where you book, live temporarily, can't wait to go out. Above all, where you feel like guests. Here, demolishing the hotels and finding the cities would already be a good idea for the post Draghi.

The President of the Republic who will be elected next year as he will face, after the elections, the problem of a parliament that will have two thirds of the current members and therefore with numerically different and unpredictable political majorities?

It is no coincidence that the constituent fathers thought it well to differentiate the duration of the two terms - the parliamentary and the presidential one - so as not to make the seven-year term of the Quirinale coincide with the five-year period (at least theoretical) of the Chamber and Senate. In the past it was a good rule, which has avoided some misunderstandings.

But now it is clear that a completely new misunderstanding is looming on the horizon. Because this legislature will eventually elect a head of state with an electoral base that in a year, perhaps less, will shrink rather sharply. And it is almost obvious that the 600 new parliamentarians, precisely because of this difference, will be tempted to consider the president elected by their 945 former colleagues as a figure of other times or almost.

It is one of the misunderstandings that derive from a poorly done reform, in the wake of demagogy and based on the idea that reducing representation (the number of parliamentarians) is part of a virtuous conception of democracy. This is a mistake. We cannot think that the measure of democratic virtue is the quantity, and not the quality, of the political roles that are covered.

Of course, one can always hope that the deputies and senators who will be elected next time will disprove with their wisdom the too worried forecasts of the day before. And you can count on the "state grace" that often infects those who have the privilege of climbing the hill.

A look at the recent past: how the idea of ​​founding not one but two Catholic parties arose, the Centro Cristiano Democratico and the Christian Democratic Union, which should have taken over the legacy of DC after the failure of Martinazzoli's Popular Party?

In reality (1994) two parties arose from the Christian Democratic roots: the PPI and the CCD. Only two, and perhaps too many. Then others were born from the split of the PPI. The popular witnesses on the center-left border and the CDU traveling towards the center-right. Shortly thereafter, European Democracy was born which settled in the center. Finally, the UDC which was an attempt to unify the CCD, CDU and De. In short, a great jumble, which perhaps deserves not too solemn attention.

The substance seems to me this. Once the bulk of the Christian Democratic electorate had joined the ranks of the Lega first, and above all of Forza Italia later, we tried to maintain a political identity that recalled the tradition we had behind us - even in the changed circumstances. So the question that stood out behind all this dust of acronyms and political operations was that of the weight and value of the former identities. How much it still made sense to declare oneself Christian Democrats (or socialists, or communists, or whatever) and how much instead one had to leave all this behind to rely on the new political containers that were taking shape.

Net of the ups and downs of the parties (ni) and the comings and goings of each of us, it seems to me a still very topical issue. Because the former characters have largely dissolved, it is true. But the new characters remain indefinite and largely unsatisfactory. And therefore, what is ancient and what is unpublished in our political dispute remains to this day a mystery that will need to be clarified sooner or later.

I fear that none of the answers we have tried to give - neither that of the preservation of traditions, nor that of the exploration of novelty - has solved the basic problem of our democracy. Which is above all a problem of representation.

What effect did Silvio Berlusconi's entry into the field have with the Forza Italia movement that was going to occupy the center area which was the same as the two Catholic parties?

It is difficult to judge Berlusconi and Berlusconi "sine ira ac studio". That is, leaving aside the passions, positive and negative, that each of us has linked to the character and his era.

Personally I think that the minus sign prevails in that story. Of course, Berlusconi has been demonized, most of the time unfairly. Of course, it had the merit of offering a house, that is, a political representation, to a central electorate, the son of the former pentapartite, which risked not having any. Of course, Occhetto's "joyful war machine" alternative was much worse. Of course, finally, it must be recognized that the Cav is a complex human figure in which generosity almost always prevails over narrow-mindedness - and this too is a factor that should be politically taken into account.

And yet, between lights and shadows that it is always right to consider, I personally struggle to give a positive opinion on that experience. Because precisely in the light of the merits that Berlusconi can claim, one can say that it was a missed opportunity. When in '94 and then again in '96 the Cav, as Ferrara calls it, is plebiscated, he really has the possibility of pushing politics towards a new season. It can open a constituent phase, it can push reforms, it can give a voice to a country larger than its own electorate. And instead it almost immediately ends up entrenching itself behind the boundary of its most immediate conveniences. Agitate anti-communism, when communism is no longer there. Dedicates attention and consideration beyond measure to Bossi's Lega. There is no mention of resolving the conflict of interest, on the contrary. And above all he continues to think that public discourse must be filled with all those forms of demagogy, simplism and carelessness that will be one of the forms of incubation of populism that will explode shortly thereafter. I would almost say that in Berlusconi there is a pleased anticipation of anti-politics, even if it would be ungenerous to enroll him fully in that school.

Let's just say that it was a missed opportunity. And that the thing is all the more serious, at least in my opinion, if we consider that Berlusconi, precisely by virtue of his personal credit, the popular favor he has long enjoyed, his own charisma, could have been the man capable of making the difference between the regeneration of politics and its transformation into a "theater". As he liked to say, without realizing that it was with that story that he offered arguments that would one day be used against him as well.

So much so that today's wise and thoughtful Berlusconi seems almost like the nemesis that agitates against the rampant Berlusconi of a few years ago.

What was the cause of the failure of Occhetto's attempt to ferry the PCI towards the center?

I have an idea that Occhetto has never raised the problem of the "center". Its horizon was the left, and there it remained. In its own way consistently. If not, in '93 / '94 he would have bet on Ciampi who had many more arguments to be appreciated by all that electorate who struggled to follow the path of the PCI secretary who had just changed his name.

But the problem in my opinion goes back much further. Occhetto is tightened and cornered by a large number of knots that had been intertwined and never untied by his predecessors. First of all by Berlinguer, who is also a mythical figure in that long history. Like everyone, I too have regard for his life and for his death which together form a legend and feed a suggestion that is still alive in the hearts of many people. But, once this has been said, the fact remains that Berlinguer himself makes the fatal mistake that made the evolution of that part of the left that took shape in Livorno just a hundred years ago so difficult. When the myth of the USSR disappears, the communist leadership of the time thought it best to fabricate another myth that could compensate for the lowering of the Soviet flag. And it was the "diversity" as we well know. The Communists told themselves and the country that they were people of a different kind: more honest, more virtuous, clearer than their opponents. Thus a subtle poison was introduced into our public dispute. And the moralistic barricade ended up taking the place of the geostrategic barricades built in the years of the cold war which were now - finally - removed.

It was a mistake, for them and for the country. Moreover, an error based on facts which to a large extent would have been disproved. But it is obvious that if the premise of the political struggle is that one side holds the keys to honesty, it follows that the other side ends up confined to a sort of foul-smelling circle of hell. That then on the other side there were many errors and some dishonesty takes nothing away. Even today I believe that the populist wave that always seems on the point of overwhelming us, or almost, owes something of its fortunes to that moral distinction drawn along the passage that led from the seventies to the eighties. A distinction that reaches us, completely out of the question.

Was it the political party crisis after tangentopoli that gave birth to the movements from Forza Italia to the Lega up to 5 Stars or did the movements represent the overcoming of political parties as we knew them in the second half of the last century?

Good question. Was the egg born first or the hen first? I would say that the two are held.

I think that at the origin there is the crisis of the parties. In our tradition, if we want a bit improperly, the parties were the state. The purists of the institutions complained about it, even rightly. The fact is that when we then dismantled the parties, with the crisis of the first republic, we did not find the state. Far from it. People have been lonelier, politics have been more empty, institutions have been more distant. And those simulacra of new parties that took shape from then on did not solve the problem at all. So much so that now they have to rely on Draghi's talent to remedy the system crisis of which they are, at the same time, the cause and the effect.

I would like to return to the metaphor of parties as cities and hotels. It is clear that the city is everyone's place, it contains an infinity of possible outcomes and goals, it foresees continuous passages from one street to another, from one house to another. The city is large, it can be shared and it is contestable. The hotel, on the other hand, is an exclusive place. You are a guest and you are subject to the rules and customs of the owner. It has something exclusive, but also something suffocating, suffocating. Neither metaphors should be taken literally, of course. It's just a saying. One example, among many, of how one can be and can feel himself a master or a guest, of how one can live in the breadth of the horizon or in the narrowest confines of a sort of imaginary confinement.

This rarefaction of political participation was then replaced by the unbearable concert of demagogy. A false story by virtue of which the celebration of incompetence, inexperience, extraneousness to the political game becomes almost the only title of merit that can be exhibited in favor of an anonymous and indistinct people who in turn become the parody of democratic life.

Now it seems that all this rhetoric of amateurism is going out of style. We'll see. But I believe that if the parties are not rethought, if they are not dedicated to restoring them, if they do not have the strength to rebuild them, they will not go far. Of course, of course, history never goes back. But at the bottom of history, or at least of our history, remains a need for ties that only thoughtful and at least somewhat structured politics is able to provide.

Populism is not a modern day invention. It is part of something that is hidden in the bowels of our country. And what's more, all of this is now paired with similar trends that have taken shape in almost all other democratic contexts. It is obvious for me to repeat that this is not the right path, and that if you continue to follow it you run serious dangers. But to indicate another path it will take a lot of effort and a certain civil courage. If nothing else, to challenge a trend and a prejudice.

Of course, it will be a long way, that of the ascent. However long it has been that sort of descent into hell that we have traveled all these years.  

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