the italian paradox


Italy is now seriously threatened by its own ungovernability. The collapse of the so-called “Second Republic” dominated by Silvio Berlusconi and the end of Mario Monti’s 18 months in power have left a cobbled-together, right-left-centrist government under Enrico Letta with grim valleys of austerity to traverse and steep mountains of reform to climb. All the while, as rightwing and leftwing populisms grow, the European Union is being transformed, in many Italian minds, from a benign and generous zio (uncle) into a malignant matrigna (stepmother) wearing an Angela Merkel mask. Yet whatever its failings, Italy is a nation that arguably projects more soft power than any other in the world – think of its food, its fashion, its music, its cultural history, its natural beauty. Resolving contradictions, as three new books amply demonstrate, will always be part of the task of writing about this country.

more from John Lloyd at the FT here.