“Europeans, not Germans,” the posters of the Italian party Italia dei Valori (“Italy of Values”) are screaming out in an effort to gain votes in the upcoming elections to the European Parliament. As I have pointed out already, I find that a rather failed and inappropriate message.
On Twitter, Ignazio Messina, the party chairman of Italia dei Valori, responded to my article, arguing that I had misunderstood the three-word slogan and that they had wanted to write “We want to be Europeans, not Germans”. He is against a “Germany-centric” Europe and against Mrs Merkel’s “diktat”.
I wondered what Italia dei Valori want to do against the fact that Germany geographically is in the center of Europe and which part of Europe they want to cut off in order to change this. The word “diktat” strikes me as rather out of place for a European decision-making process in which Italy does play a role which is not unsubstantial.
Thus I contacted Mr Messina with the following questions:
- What exactly is your party’s problem with Germans?
- Why is the message written in such a personal way? Why “Germans” instead “Germany” for example?
- Did you consider what effect this might have on what Italians and Germans think of each other?
- I have only seen these posters in the south of Italy (in Palermo and in Polignano a Mare). Do you also use them in the north of Italy? Do you use them in the German-speaking regions in Alto Adige?
- What would your reaction be if a party in Germany would put up posters saying “Europeans, not Italians”?
Despite our differences in opinion, I want to acknowledge that I quickly received a cordial response.
noi non ce l’abbiamo con i tedeschi e non nutriamo alcun risentimento verso di loro. Noi vogliamo un’Europa diversa da quella che c’e’, non germanizzata come accade adesso: un’Europa che non sia di proprietà delle banche, un’Europa dove i salari sono equivalenti. E’ questo che intendiamo con un’Europa germano-centrica, perché di fatto la signora Merkel ha fatto pagare all’Italia un prezzo troppo alto in termini di austerità bloccando qualunque tentativo di crescita. Non e’ possibile che le imprese italiane paghino il 40% di tasse sul lavoro mentre negli altri paesi dell’Unione si paga il 21%. Inoltre le banche debbono ricevere per il credito alle industrie e alle famiglie non piu’ del 5%. Siamo europei, non sudditi della Germania e della sua scellerata politica economica, questo lo vogliamo ribadire. Da quando c’e’ l’euro gli italiani hanno perso il 50% del potere di acquisto. Questo perché non si è fatta l’Europa politica ma solo quella monetaria. Si doveva fare il contrario. I Paesi deboli debbono essere aiutati da quelli più forti, non come sta facendo la Germania che fagocita le aree più deboli.
A questo proposito ti invito a guardare questo video in cui chiarisco meglio la nostra posizione:
Un caro saluto
Mr Messina asserts that his party has no problems with Germans, but that they don’t want the current “Germanized” or “Germany-centric” Europe.
Then he claims that it is due to Mrs Merkel (IdV apparently like to formulate their attacks in as personal a way as possible) that Italy has to pay too high of a price. Alleged austerity would block any growth. (In reality, Italy also had hardly any economic growth in the years before the debt crisis.)
Referring to companies in Italy paying 40% of tax and comparing this with companies in other EU countries (which ones?) paying 21% does not sound like a logical basis for anti-Germanism to me. I am not aware that Germany ever forced Italy to set its tax rates that high (and maybe not enforce the tax laws rigidly enough). Actually, the tax rate for businesses in Germany is just as high as in Italy.
“We are Europeans, not subjects of Germany and its nefarious economic policy,” I hear the megaphone screaming from the e-mail. Have Berlusconi and Grillo poisoned the political climate in Italy so much, that such statements have become normal?
Since introducing the Euro (a step which Italy voluntarily applied for and which was hardly forced upon any other country by Germany), Italians have allegedly lost 50% of their purchasing power. As it happens in a combination of zero-growth and rising spending by the state. It’s called inflation and Italy already had that (even more drastically) when the currency was the Lira.
The party chairman did not want to respond to my specific questions. I recognize a certain obsession with Germany which is made responsible for everything that one doesn’t like, even though most of these decisions have been made by Italy or by the majority of EU member states. It reminds me of the “Blame Canada” campaign in the South Park movie. Then I also recognize a small dash of “in the past, everything was better”. All Germans being held accountable for chancellor Merkel’s opinions regardless of their individual political opinion is something which surprises me, coming from a country that was governed by Silvio Berlusconi until recently.