Friday, January 3, 2014

Grillo's Cry For Help

"In January we will move for impeachment of Mr. Napolitano; I hope that he will resign before he is impeached, as Mr. Cossiga did". That's probably the most revealing sentence in the speech Beppe Grillo delivered to the nation on his website on December the 31st. At the very same time the Italian President, Giorgio Napolitano, was reading his new year's eve speech on the national broadcasting company.

As Grillo pointed out, he's more experienced in addressing to the nation than Napolitano. He gave his first new year's eve speech in 1998 on a private tv network. At that time, it was just a fake presidential speech given by the most famous and controversial Italian comedian. It was supposed to be funny. Fifteen years after, Grillo sounds more serious and formal than the real President. This is not surprising: today he's the aknowledged leader of the populist "5 Stars Movement" which nearly won the 2013 elections. And in January 2014 the 5SM members of the Chambers will move for impeachment of the old President, who's been re-elected eight months ago.

The nature of the accusation is still not clear, and maybe it's not so relevant. Grillo aknowledged in a private meeting with the 5SM members that the impeachment is a "political fiction". "We can't say that he has violated the Constitution. And yet we must give a signal to our people, we must show that he no longer represents the majority of the people". However, Napolitano is going to resign sooner or later: as he has always told (even in his last speech) the 88 year-old president is decided to stay in charge only as long as he thinks it's necessary to overcome the parliamentary impasse which has been the result of the 2013 elections. Should the parliament approve a new electoral law (the former one has been rejected by the Constitution Court), Napolitano could dissolve the Chambers, call for new elections and resign. It could be a matter of months. One day Napolitano will resign - and that very day Grillo will claim to have forced him to do it, thanks to his threats of impeachment. That's the only thing he can really prove to "his" people, an year after his "5 Stars Movement" broke in the Italian Parliament. They had promised to "open the Chambers like it was a fish can", but Grillo's resolution not to collaborate with the Democratic Party gave to Berlusconi the last chance to take part in a coalition government. Grillo actually didn't even obstruct Napolitano's re-election, which could have been avoided if 5SM electors had voted for the former Prime Minister and president of UE commission, Romano Prodi.

If Grillo's 2013 ended on a serious note, 2014 started with a burst of madness we did not expect anymore from him. On January the 1st he picked on his blog as "person of the year" Thamsanqa Jantjie: the fake sign language interpreter who embarrassed the world audience at Nelson Mandela's state funeral. It's a very weird choice: on Grillo's blog the "person of the year" ceremony has always been taken seriously. The person of 2012 was "the Italian middle-class entrepreneur", portrayed as a Saint Sebastian pierced by taxes and bureaucracy. The person of 2011 was the leader of the NoTAV movement, which opposes to the construction of the Turin-Lyon high-speed railway. So what about Thamsanqa Jantjie? He's not a leader, not an entrepreneur, not a hero. Or is he? Jantjie is "beyond truth and lies", Grillo wrote. "Everything you see is false or maybe real, and nobody cares".

Grillo's weblog audience is puzzled and disappointed. But they may recognize in this odd choice a glimpse of sincerity: maybe Grillo recognizes himself in the tragicomic character who stays in the middle between an Establishment he does not really understand and a big audience, "his" people. He loves them, he really would like to have something to say to them, something serious; and yet he has run out of tricks. So he keeps mimicking speeches, while he hopes for something to happen - something sure will happen, in the long run. Like Jantjie, he's in this fatiguing condition for a long time. Perhaps he's tired - even a little bit hallucinated, like Jantjie was. That would even explain his apocalyptic visions. Maybe he's crying for help; maybe his people should listen more carefully.

(Italian version).