Italian Populism Summarised in a Graph

If you have followed the Italian news in the last few months you will know that there have been only two topics of discussion: vitalizi (politicians’ pensions) and the immigrant crisis. But are these the most important problems in Italy today, or is this merely plain old populismo? There’s nothing better than a simple graph to answer the question:

chart (2)

Here’s where the figures came from:

Savings on vitalizi
Il Sole 24 Ore, Italy’s “Financial Times”, estimates that the yearly saving from the recent cut on politicians pensions is 76 million euros.

(it can be easily noted that if the prospect of a legal and safe income for legislators reduced corruption by as little as 0.2%, vitalizi would be a good long-term investment)

Cost of immigrants

This figure was provided courtesy of the Il Giornale, a right-wing newspaper with an openly anti-immigration agenda, so there’s no risk of underestimation.

(obviously a very small percentage of this amount goes to the actual immigrants, most of it remains in the hands of Italians.

IMU Vatican

Even though the Vatican owns roughly 20% of properties in Italy, the Italian government still hasn’t figured out how to get them to pay any property tax. When Monti’s technical government stated that it wasn’t technical enough to calculate the Vatican’s bill for the last 6 years, 4 billions were lost.

Apple’s fine

I have only taken a symbolic figure, as Apple’s fine is just the tip of the iceberg of multinationals tax evasion/elusion in Europe.

Cost of Corruption

It’s not easy to estimate corruption, but there seems to be a consensus on this figure of 60 billion a year.

Mafia Revenue in Italy

According to Panorama magazine, the Mafia is the leading Italian enterprise, with a revenue of over 130 billion euro a year.

There is a tendency in Italy to avoid attempts at solving problems by pointing to other supposedly more serious and more important issues – so much that we have a word for this, benaltrismo – with people justifying their double parking or littering by blaming corrupted politicians or the euro. But considering the recent obsession with vitalizi and the cost of immigrants, a healthy dose of benaltrismo is what is needed to get out of this populistic swamp and start focusing on Italy’s real problems.


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