It is not easy for Matteo Salvini’s Lega to pretend to be “anti-system.” The party for a long time has been governing important regions such as Lombardy and Veneto, where no one has ever heard even the slightest hint of questioning the dominant financial system. Quite the opposite: in those regions, they have been passing measures signaling absolute obedience to the establishment that the Lega is railing against today as the powers-that-be who are overturning the popular will.
The point they are making, as we have noted, is strikingly valid; however, it is clear that liberation from the system of globalized financial oligarchies cannot come from a party that keeps passing laws on industry, large commercial chains, health or urban government which are perfectly consonant with the dominant logic of the financial markets.
Luigi Di Maio and the 5 Stars seem to be having an easier time in striking the proper anti-establishment pose, thundering on their blogs against the strong establishment powers that prevented the birth of their government for change. But even in their case, the way they have acted in local government exposes this as a ruse. They have been governing Turin and Rome for two years now, and the policies they have put in place are in full contradiction with their attempt to portray themselves as anti-system. In Turin there is a complete saturation of major shopping centers, and the decision taken on the Winter Olympics leaves no doubt as to where the 5 Stars stand in their relationship with the powers of the financial and business world.
In Rome, all the constant scandals, starting from the latest puzzling affair of the Roman stage of the Tour of Italy, have so far been subsumed in the overall narrative of the incompetence and unpreparedness of the Raggi team. Indeed, the level of amateurishness on display veers towards the grotesque, as in the case of the proposal to use sheep as lawn mowers. But behind the endless series of failures, one is by now able to see a clear and unequivocal governing direction: leaving the field open for the powers-that-be to do as they please.
The first tell-all sign came with the affair of the new stadium for AS Roma at Tor di Valle, where Di Maio’s men, the “commissioners” Bonafede and Fraccaro, allowed the project to go forward, as opposed to it being cancelled as was promised in Raggi’s “government contract” with the Romans. Behind this case of real estate speculation lies the influence of Unicredit, which holds around €200 million of debt from both AS Roma and the construction companies of the Parnasi family.
On the Roman beachfront at Ostia, a place where an economic power structure has grown, leading to well-known organized crime scandals, the 5 Stars have abandoned the hard line of demolitions previously taken by magistrate Sabella (named by ex-mayor Marino), thereby ensuring that no established interest group will be touched.
In addition, for the express purpose of addressing the housing crisis, €30 million per year are wasted in residential rents paid to large property holdings, while dozens of public buildings and structures lie abandoned. The same goes for the tens of millions in rent that the City of Rome and the State are paying to private owners for the offices of various institutions, which could be housed in public buildings instead.
To top it all, large international commercial groups (i.e. De Balkany) are about to get a historic building converted into an enormous shopping center at Piramide, just a short walk from the historic center of Rome, on land that is entirely publicly owned.
Neither the Lega nor the 5 Stars can boast of any consistently pursued policy against those powers-that-be that they are now attacking verbally with so much gusto. The proverb is true that the dog that barks does not bite—although this applies only for the powerful. For private citizens, on the other hand, of which the Lega and the M5S both tout themselves as valiant defenders, the only things that seem to be on offer are Salvini’s infamous “going round from house to house” and Raggi’s irresponsible attempts to evict the International House of Women and disrupt many other invaluable parts of Roman society.
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