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Italy: Establishment routed - workers alternative needed
From the editorial of Resistenze by Contro Corrente, CWI Italy
In January 2014, on the day that Matteo Renzi took office, we wrote that this was the beginning of the end for the leader of the Democratic Party (PD), who at that time seemed to be on an unstoppable path to glory.
The result of the constitutional referendum, in which Renzi was defeated by almost 60% to 40%, shows not so much our foresight but the lack of foresight of the Italian ruling class, which relied on a leader who turned out to be a car without brakes.
In fact, on 4 December Italians sent a clear and strong message not only to the government and the prime minister but also to the entire political class, including those who were on the 'No' side.
As the Sole24Ore (newspaper of the industrialists and financiers) wrote on the day after the vote, those who voted 'Yes' were mainly pensioners and in the upper and middle layers of society. While those low-paid workers and youth, precisely those who the government had addressed its rhetoric to for three years, dealt them a solemn blow.
81% of those aged 18 to 35 voted 'No'. The idea that it would be possible to ride the wave of social anger by promising a few euros to the poorer sections of society, proved to be a complete illusion.
As was predicting an 'apocalypse' if 'No' won, while trying to chase after Grillo (leader of the Five Star Movement) and Salvini (leader of the Lega Nord) on their anti-'political caste' and anti-Europe terrain. The same is true for those who pose as defenders of the constitution, including Grillo.
Workers, youth and impoverished middle-class people didn't vote 'No' to defend 'the best constitution in the world', but to reject those who, instead of 'demolishing the old politics' (as everyone says they want to do), continued to demolish working people.
Laughably the establishment talked about a country that doesn't exist - where the economy is improving, companies are taking on hundreds of thousands of young people on permanent contracts, and taxes are decreasing.
Renzi's massive defeat, his resignation, and the deepening crisis of the PD (the real pro-big business wing of recent years) represent a positive development and an opportunity for workers and youth who want to fight for a better future.
But for an opportunity to become a step forward it must be grasped with a realistic analysis of the political and social situation. There isn't a single political force in the 'No' camp which could be a reference point for those who really want to change Italian society.
Fill the streets
The enthusiasm for the 'No' vote could be used to begin a serious discussion about a political alternative capable of filling the streets rather than the voting stations.
Alternatively, it could be used to sow the illusion that now that Renzi has been kicked out our problems are solved, that a new 'centre-left' can be reborn or that a victory for the Five Star Movement at the next general election could produce what hasn't been so far produced in any of the municipalities controlled by Grillo's movement.
Obviously we are for the first option.
In The Socialist 7 December 2016:
What we think
Socialist Party news and analysis
Food banks feature
NHS crisis and fightback
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
John Sharpe: 1953-2016