Charles Moore

Italy’s populists have won – but they’re still not in charge

Italy's populists have won – but they're still not in charge
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Recently, the ‘populist’ (i.e. electorally victorious) new government of Italy wanted to appoint an anti-euro finance minister and was told by the President of the Republic that it couldn’t. This caused outrage in Italy, and it made rational people here assume that there would have to be new elections, or the impeachment of the president. In fact, however, both sides have won, or at least lived to fight another day. Professor Savona is not to be finance minister, but Europe minister instead, and the populists are still in charge, yet not in charge. This should not be surprising if one remembers Professor Savona’s own dictum that the euro is ‘a German cage’. Bravely identifying this fact does not give one the key to escape from it. In the FT this week, Gideon Rachman writes, admiringly, that ‘the cage is inherent in the original design of the currency’. So it is, but that ought, from a Europhile point of view, to be extremely alarming. If a country cannot renounce German control by democratic means, it starts to consider more desperate measures. Ultimately, currencies rest not on compulsion, but on acceptance.

This is an extract from Charles Moore's Spectator Notes, which appears in this week's magazine