Sunday, November 18, 2012

In Italy the Government is Lead by Adherents of a Strict Religious Group – The Result

A Legacy of Corruption

While the economic problems in Greece, Portugal and Spain have complex roots, the problems in Italy can be traced directly corruption and incompetence in government.

Since its regional election in 2010, Lombardy’s politics has seen a moral collapse. The last straw was the arrest of the head of housing, Domenico Zambetti, accused of aiding the Calabrian mafia, or ’Ndrangheta (see article). Soon afterwards, Roberto Formigoni, who has governed Lombardy for 17 years, dissolved its 80-seat assembly. An election is likely in January.

Mr Zambetti brought to 14 the number of regional lawmakers under investigation or arrest, on trial or in jail. All but one are members of Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) movement or of the Northern League, its coalition partner in Lombardy. Alleged offences include taking bribes, illegal party donations, fraud, embezzlement, fraudulent bankruptcy and incitement to violence. Nicole Minetti, a former television showgirl and dental hygienist allegedly supplied women for Mr Berlusconi’s “Bunga Bunga” parties, aiding and abetting prostitution. More regional parliamentarians are in trouble with the law in Lombardy than in Campania, the region around Naples.

The culprits are the partly some supposedly deeply religious folks.

What makes this striking is that, since 1995, politics in Lombardy has been under the sway of a Catholic spiritual movement called Communion and Liberation (CL). Mr Formigoni, who is himself under investigation, is a leading member of CL, a group that grew up in reaction to the student uprisings of 1968. Its ventures include an annual meeting in Rimini at which speakers have included Nobel laureates and Mother Teresa.

Mr Formigoni belongs to the Memores Domini, an association of CL members who are meant to live by the values of fraternal love, obedience and poverty. Among the accusations levelled at him is that he accepted from a friend and businessman holidays at a luxurious Caribbean resort popular with Hollywood stars. Mr Formigoni denies this, claiming to have paid for the holidays himself.

And this is Italy so when a corrupt government leader is caught out, he just moves on to a higher office.

As for Mr Formigoni, he may be finished as governor. But he has talked of standing in next month’s primary to choose the PdL candidate for prime minister at next spring’s general election.

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