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The Italian jobby

Nigel Morris-Co...

If the current state of affairs in Italian politics were to be in any other country, it would be a national, even regional and, perhaps even, global crisis. But it's not. In Italy politics is so bizarre that even a Gallic shrug, a Malaysian "it's Malaysia" or a Japanese polite turning away would be over-reactions.

Italy is a country where the disgraced are rehabilitated, and not only in politics, and welcomed back - literally with open arms. Who'd have thought that so many people would be so pleased to see Flavio Briatore walking around a Formula One grid? It's a country where the rules seem to be open to any plausible interpretation which changes from day to day (look at Ferrari's interpretations of the Formula 1 regulations). It's a country where style and passion are obsessions. And it's a country that doesn't seem to want to have a government.

Italy is a country of many halves. There's the southern half and the northern half, the eastern half and the western half, the industrial half, the tourist half, the agricultural half and the commercial/financial half. And that's not the half of it. There's the half that thinks it's Switzerland, the half that thinks it's French (and sometimes has been), there's the half that thinks it should be tax free and the less than half that actually is tax free. There's the half that is obsessed with motorcycles, the half who think scooters are the best thing since pre-cut panini and the half that's obsessed with fast or, at least, stylish cars (even at the cost of the things falling apart through rust or refusing to go, or stop, as so many have over the years). There's the half that thinks Opera is music for the masses and the half that thinks Zucchero is a demi-god.

There is half that think God is great and half that think the world is godless. There's the half that agree with an infamous judge that girls who wear short skirts are inviting rape and half that think all girls should wear as little as possible until a diet rich in pasta and grappa overtakes them. There's the half that lives on panini and polenta and the half that lives on pizza and pasta.

In a world that screams about diversity, one only has to look at Italy to see diversity in action. Politically, there is benign anarchy, an accidental but inevitable anarchy. The lack of a government is situation normal in Italy. There's half that is happy with that and half that's delighted.

It is difficult to remember the last time Italy had a proper government and the most recent that comes to mind was improper in so many ways. Silvio Berlusconi: young girls, scantily clad girls, ultra-soft porn that wasn't actually pornographic at all.. Berlusconi's vision of Italy was that of the working class northerner and that was his heartland. The north has a fractured relationship with the rest of the country. It's cold, mountainous, industrial in parts, stunningly beautiful, dramatic, landscapes that most tourists fly over without looking down in others. Parts of it have been disputed with France for hundreds of years and even now parts of the north-west have French names for people and places and many inhabitants are bi-lingual. On the other side of the country, north of Turin, is the tax free enclave of Livigno, reportedly tax free because, in days gone by, the inhabitants sent tax collectors back to Rome without their heads. Render unto Caesar, and all that stuff, but rather later in history than that particular story.

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