Fake News: Media Try to Reframe Italy Political Crisis as ‘Referendum on the Euro’

A picture taken on May 30, 2018 shows figurines on an Italian flag lying on a European Union flag. - Italy, one of the European Union's biggest economies, has been plunged into crisis after President Sergio Mattarella at the weekend vetoed the new government's nomination of a fierce eurosceptic as …

Mainstream media outlets have scrambled to recast Italy’s crisis in national sovereignty as a debate over participation in the European Union (EU) and its currency (euro) to draw attention away from President Sergio Mattarella’s unprecedented veto of democratic elections.

Walking in perfect ideological lockstep, Reuters stated that “Italy’s fresh election risks being referendum on euro” while CNBC declared that “Italian voters brace for euro showdown ahead of snap election,” assertions that have no basis in fact.

The Times of London claimed Wednesday that Italy is “bitterly divided” over Mattarella’s decision to scuttle the newly elected government, an assertion that is patently false. Italians are overwhelmingly united in their disgust with and condemnation of Mattarella’s decision to prioritize EU and big capital interests over the will of his own citizens.

On Monday, the hashtag #Impeachment was trending on Italian Twitter as Italians lashed out in anger at the president.

For the first time in the history of the Italian republic, a president has thrown out the proposal for a government from democratically elected parties.

Mr. Mattarella further insulted Italian voters by naming former International Monetary Fund (IMF) official Carlo Cottarelli to form a new technocrat government.

Even the harshest critics of the victorious populist coalition have recognized that the Italian president’s heavy-handedness would galvanize the nation around the aggrieved parties.

Left-wing former prime minister Massimo D’Alema warned just prior to the elections that “if we have to go back to the ballot box because of a veto of Savona, Salvini will pick up 80 percent” of the vote.

For its part, the national news service ANSA published an article announcing that “impeachment” had found its way back into the Italian vocabulary as a result of Mattarella’s unprecedented move.

In the epitome of irony, international stock markets plummeted on Tuesday in the wake of the president’s decision, which he claimed he was making to avoid just this sort of market instability.

Italian two-year bonds suffered their biggest sell-off in almost three decades, the Times reported, while the value of the euro dropped by another 0.8 percent and Wall Street declined by more than 1.5 percent as investors shifted out of equities into bonds.

Mattarella said he feared that the nomination of eminent economist and Eurosceptic Paolo Savona would have sent a message of “alarm” to “economic and financial operators” in his justification for vetoing the government.

The Left has reacted by trying to paint the debate (and probable upcoming elections) as a thumbs up or down to participation in the euro, which would threaten “the economic and financial stability of our country,” rather than an issue of national sovereignty vs. Brussels. The leaders of both the 5 Star Movement and the League have denied this allegation.

The scaremongering is meant to frighten Italian voters into abandoning the populist parties out of fear of losing pensions and economic subsidies from the EU.

Meanwhile, the popularity of the two victorious parties has surged in recent days, with that of the League growing by a remarkable 8 percent, while that of establishment parties has fallen to record lows.

Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter


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