Europe’s Political Hokey Pokey Continues
After a roller coaster couple of weeks, Italy has a government—but now the Spanish have lost theirs.
Italy’s new prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, was sworn in today. So it’s official. My own personal frustration of writing an article about a government that seems imminent—only to have everything change—is over.
To recap, earlier this week Italian President Sergio Mattarella objected to the coalition’s choice of finance minister, Paolo Savona. Savona was too euroskeptic for Mattarella. In his latest book, Paolo Savona states that the euro is a German “cage,” writing, “Germany didn’t change its idea on its role in Europe after the end of Nazism, even if it abandoned the idea of imposing itself militarily.
“[W]e need to prepare a plan B to get out of the euro if necessary … the other alternative is to end up like Greece.”
These opinions were unacceptable to Mattarella—despite the coalition being democratically elected. So Mattarella stepped into a constitutional gray area and blocked the proposed government.
This blocking of an elected government was a victory for Germany and pro-Europeans, as I wrote on Tuesday—they “have won this battle, but not the war.” Italy’s euroskeptics made some small concessions, they have not left the fight.
They put forward a new candidate for finance minister: Giovanni Tria. It is a small compromise. Tria seems to see the euro in about the same way as Savona, though he has expressed himself a little less stridently. He has described Europe as a “rigged competition” that “favors Germany” and has called for debate on the euro in Italy and Europe.
Savona, meanwhile, although rejected as finance minister has been accepted in the less significant post of European Affairs minister.
Italy is now set to move forward—with its confrontation with Germany. The eurozone’s third-largest economy could soon be squaring off against Europe’s largest economy. The compromise over the finance minister could indicate that Italy will deal with Germany—but that’s far from certain.
Meanwhile, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has been ousted in a no-confidence vote—for the first time in the nation’s history. His government has long been tenuous—his Popular Party lacked a majority, but Rajoy had been able to attract the support he needed. A corruption scandal in his party allowed the opposition to gain the votes required to oust him.
Now Spain faces an unstable and probably short-lived government. Pedro Sanchez, leader of the Academic and Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party is set to succeed Rajoy as prime minister. But Sanchez’s party has only 85 seats in the 350-member parliament. He plans to lead a minority government with ad-hoc support from a wide range of smaller parties, including Basque and Catalan nationalists, and the upstart, left-wing Podemos party.
The political troubles of these two national governments have major differences. But they have important similarities too. At their root, they both stem from the massive political changes wrought by the euro crisis. In Spain, established parties have seen their support eroded to the point that no stable coalitions are possible. In Italy, the upstart or fringe parties have replaced what used to be the mainstream parties.
The political systems of both countries are tottering because of this underlying earthquake.
Events are so unstable and uncertain because these are not normal times. In some of Italy’s regions, youth unemployment is around 50 percent. Spain’s youth unemployment stands at 35 percent. Spain’s overall unemployment rate is around 16 percent; Italy’s, 11 percent. Spain has regions where 1 in 4 are out of work.
Both nations have had unemployment levels this high for five years or more. This is crisis level—careers, towns and even lives are blighted by long-term joblessness. With this kind of foundation, it’s little wonder that the politics of these countries is so unstable.
The Bible forecasts a massive change is coming to Europe. Revelation 17 describes a 10-nation, autocratic superpower rising on the Continent. Currently the European Union has 28 nations and between three and five presidents. But the fulfillment of this revelation has already begun. The political instability will continue, and a European superpower will emerge.
“Social unrest and riots will eventually force Europeans to succumb to a strong united government of Europe, led ultimately not from Brussels, but from Berlin,” wrote Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry in 2008 at the start of the euro crisis. This unrest is ongoing, and the devastated economies have not changed.
To read more about the changes coming to Europe, read our free book The Holy Roman Empire in Prophecy.