THE bourgeoisie of Europe woke up on Tuesday morning to discover, to their horror, headlines proclaiming that the third largest economy in Europe had become ‘ungovernable’ and threatens to bring down the eurozone.
Monday night’s announcement of the general election results in Italy immediately sent the capitalist money markets into a tailspin as it became clear that the Italian working class had torn up the electoral rule book and massively rejected the traditional coalition blocs and their pro-austerity policies.
The immediate cause of this general election was the forced resignation of the prime minister, Mario Monti, last November.
Monti had been appointed by the EU after the notorious Silvio Berlusconi was forced out of office by the EU bureaucrats in 2011 after facing claims of ‘economic mismanagement’ over Italy’s huge debt crisis.
Monti was appointed to lead a government of ‘technocrats’ charged by the eurozone bankers to bring down the debt by driving through savage austerity measures, including cutting wages and pensions, increasing the retirement age and pushing up taxes, including introducing a hated property tax on households.
Monti was able to govern through the support of Berlusconi’s right-wing coalition. This support was abruptly withdrawn by Berlusconi last November when he saw his chance of a political comeback by jumping on the anti-austerity bandwagon and taking on Monti who had become a reviled figure amongst the Italian working class.
Berlusconi renounced austerity and declared that not only would he stop tax increases but that his right-wing coalition would actually repay taxes paid already.
The expected outcome of the election, forced by Berlusconi, was victory for the centre-left group led by Pier Luigi Bersani – which also supported austerity but promised less harsher economic policies.
What put the cat amongst the pigeons with a vengeance was the working class and youth.
Instead of following the electoral script they voted massively for a completely new party, the Five Star Movement (M5S), led by popular comedian Beppo Grillo.
Grillo gained notoriety in Italy for his scathing denunciation of politicians and the Italian political system as corrupt and dominated by cronyism.
Eschewing the normal electioneering campaigning of television debates, Grillo barnstormed around Italy on a programme of not supporting either of the other parties or blocs, a repudiation of sovereign debt and a referendum on withdrawing from the eurozone and returning to the lire.
Drawing support predominantly from the unemployed and the youth Grillo’s M5S party secured 25.4% of the popular vote compared to the centre-left’s 29.54% and Berlusconi’s right-wing coalition’s 29.18%, making it the largest single political party in the Italian parliament.
Monti’s coalition of ‘technocrats’ received a derisory 10%. Declaring the mainstream parties ‘were finished’ Grillo went on to say: ‘We’ve started a war of generations’.
The war, in fact, was not started by Grillo, it is a war against the working class and youth that has been started by capitalism, a war that has at its centre the absolute imperative for capitalism to survive by making the working class of Europe and the world pay for its banking collapse and debt crisis.
What this vote represents is the tide of revolution amongst workers and youth that is sweeping Europe and is causing them to break with the traditional bourgeois parties who are seen for what they really are – nothing more than the willing tools of a corrupt and bankrupt capitalist system intent on pauperising the working class.
Grillo and M5S have no answers to this crisis, they espouse a vague anti-capitalism whilst at the same time insisting they wish to remain in the capitalist EU.
For the working class to advance and win the war against capitalism it requires a trained revolutionary leadership, it requires the building of sections of the International Committee of the Fourth International in every country to lead the European socialist revolution to victory and the creation of the United Socialist States of Europe.