Questo articolo è stato pubblicato il 11 aprile 2012 alle ore 05:57.
L'ultima modifica è del 11 aprile 2012 alle ore 03:35.
If the mere announcement of an urgent intervention on financial regulations were sufficient to restore credibility to the political parties, maybe the crisis thrashing them would not exist. Unfortunately, it does exist, and it is dramatic.
The Luigi Lusi and Francesco Belsito embezzlement scandals have brought the issue to the center stage of public opinion. We have long known that the tree was decayed from the roots up and that no one lifted a finger to correct the problems. Samule Bersani, secretary of the left-of-center Democratic Party, states, “Not all parties are alike. The ledgers of the Democratic Party are certified.” But it is a weak statement, only good enough to reassure the blockheads. History teaches that everybody is at risk of slipping, at least until the political parties, or at least a majority of them, stop behaving like businesses.
This is the starting point. Political parties are involved in myriad matters that are not strictly tied to political activity. Case in point: they do business. They have the time to dedicate to investments, operating almost like financial institutions. The treasurers of the past—names like Severino Citaristi of the former Christian Democrats, Vincenzo Balsamo of the Italian Socialist Party and Primo Greganti of the Italian Communist Party—ended up in real trouble due to the Tangentopoli, or Bribesville, scandal. That came out of the Mani Pulite (“Clean Hands”) investigations, led by Antonio Di Pietro from 1992 to 1996, which brought about the collapse of the hitherto dominant Christian Democrats. Surely, they will not be missed, but those were party bosses of a different era. Their assignment was to balance the books: sometimes they couldn’t do it; other times, they made the entries and expenses match with a little extra effort. They rarely worked with any surplus. The problem today is how to increase the real-estate holdings or transfer capital to exotic places. This is all on behalf of organizations not built around legal entities, despite the fact that for decades the less disillusioned have been asking for a practical application of the Constitution where political parties are concerned.
The great determination of the three majority leaders—Bersani, Angelino Alfano of the right-of-center People of Freedom and Pier Fredinando Casini of the centrist Union of Christian Democrats—to reform the parties’ public financing (sometimes modestly called “electoral reimbursement”) would be laudable if it weren’t so suspicious. There is the risk of a media-based magic tricks aimed at surpassing the tough times, while parties could still fall out of the pan into the fire, still intending in the back of their minds to return to the old path once things cool off. In truth, it is too late to really believe that they can regain credibility simply with a stricter oversight mechanism. Let’s be clear: the Government Accountability Office is definitely a better choice than another ad hoc “Authority.” But this is not the point. We can only turn the page if Parliament has the courage to swiftly tackle three issues: first, the amount of resources allotted to the parties from each and every legislature. These are hundreds and hundreds of millions of euros—a mountain of funds that needs to be sensibly reduced, regardless of oversight procedures.
Secondly, the direct channel between a party and its supporters and sponsors must be re-establihsed. The majority of the financing should come from them, and the state should only guarantee a small, certified reimbursement. Today, Il Sole 24 Ore clearly presents the plan proposed by Professor Pellegrino Capaldo of the Universita’ La Sapienza in Rome. It is a system to gradually reduce the flow of government resources to the parties over five years, while at the same time offering a favorable fiscal policy for private contributions. You can criticize this plan, but only if you produce an equally efficient alternative. The only thing that cannot be done is to let this river of financing keep on flowing while tacking on a couple of extra controls.
Thirdly, it would be best if the parties avoided making promises and then failed to keep them. The public may no longer be willing to turn a blind eye. So far, the “announcements” policy has been used in cases of institutional reform and electoral regulation. It would be serious if the parties were to resort to the same tactics for the financing/reimbursement issue. After the scandals, the people’s patience may be running out.
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