"Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN
Fareed speaks with Beppe Severgnini, a columnist with Italy’s ‘Corriere della Sera,’ about last week’s Italian elections and what the deadlock means for the country.
Does it matter that nobody is running Italy? The line in Italy has always been, the government sleeps and the economy grows.
Well, it does matter, to be honest. It does matter a lot. But we're not worried. You shouldn't be worried. I think things will be sorted out…But don't panic. I remember I was in Aspen for the Aspen Ideas Festival, late June, 2012. A panel about Europe. Everybody was talking about doomsday, you know, everything is over. And I told them, keep quiet. Let's see what happens. And, in fact, it turned out that things got better. So before we decide that it is over – I think the expression, it's not over until the fat lady sings, it comes from opera. Opera is Italian, don't forget that.
But let me ask you, Beppe, why did the Italians do this? It's one thing to reject austerity and things like that. But, you know, you've elected either one or two clowns, depending on one's estimation of Silvio Berlusconi. What are the Italians saying?
Out of four Italians, one didn't vote, one voted for Berlusconi, one voted for the center left, one voted for Grillo. So that's why we are in a stalemate. Beppe Grillo is a kind of wrecking ball for Italian politics. And to be honest, some of the Italian political buildings needed to go down. Political parties asked for it. The question is, will we be able to build up something to replace what we pulled down?
What about this issue that Italy has done a fair amount of austerity, but very little reform. If you look at unit labor costs, which is one proxy for reform, they have barely changed in Italy, whereas they're down substantially in places like Spain or even Greece. If you look at the structural reforms that people think Italy needs, they haven't done that much with all of Mario Monti’s efforts.
Don't forget, it's very important for people who are looking at this program to understand how we get there. When the crisis hit, every country reacted in different ways. You in America, what happened? You know, on the left, people occupied whatever it was free to occupy. [There’s] the Tea Party on the right. In Greece, they clashed in the square. In France, they took to the streets. In Britain, they enjoyed swearing at their bankers. In Italy, it was all very quiet. And people accepted Mario Monti’s bitter medicine.
And this is the reaction, a bit sort of delayed. I agree…we really need to go into structural reform. Berlusconi was a disaster as a prime minister, because Italy, between 2001 and 2011, only a few countries in the world grew less than Italy – Eritrea, Haiti and Zimbabwe. How is that possible? We sell Prada, we sell Maserati and Ferrari. We are a good big manufacturing country – bigger than Britain, as a matter of fact, in terms of manufacturing.
So we need to go back to what we can do and restructure. Maybe it's the time to do it. They are so scared, the political parties, that they'll do everything.