Funny that Paul should mention Italian elections; I watched a piece on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Foreign Correspondent tonight that trailed a couple of Australians (I call them Australians, because that’s what they are – not Italians, despite their declarations to the contrary) who have just been elected to the Italian federal parliament under the utterly ridiculous new system that mandates a level of parliamentary representation to “Italians abroad” – that is, emigrants. One of the two men, Nino Randazzo (who’s been an Australian for more than fifty years), nominally supports Romano Prodi’s coalition, however he is seen as a potentially swinging voter in a tightly balanced senate and thus holds power far beyond that which his diminutive stature implies.
Notwithstanding the fact that the legitimacy of these foreign men wielding Italian political power is extraordinarily tenuous, what do these people want from the Italian state? According to one of the two, financial assistance for “cultural purposes” to benefit people who have left Italy to make better lives for themselves in other countries. One newly-elected American member of the Italian parliament declared that Italy somehow owed its émigrés something due to the remittances they voluntarily sent back to Italy many years ago.* The mind boggles. Why, oh why do these privileged foreigners think they have the right to extract funds from the already hard-pressed Italian taxpayer – a group they deserted long ago? Why on earth are Italians not apoplectic with rage over these people who are only going to make the Italian government’s deficit slide further into the red with their demands of cultural grants for foreigners? And we’re talking about foreigners who have already helped create rich Italian cultures in their chosen countries and as a group could effortlessly afford to fund whatever cultural boondoggles these new enemies of the Italian taxpayer have in mind. Of course, most Australian-Italians would not give a cent (Australian or Euro) for these cultural pursuits – whatever they may be. Amazingly, in this circumstance the new Italian electoral system has made it easier to arm-twist a foreign government to do one’s bidding.
You have probably ascertained from my colourful use of formatting that I am a wee bit irritated by the exploits of these men. For a start, I do not like parasitic types who think they have some divine right to expropriate other people’s money. Secondly, I cannot stand those who move to a country like Australia, make their lives here and by all accounts do very well for themselves in a way that they could not have if they’d have stayed in the land of their birth, only to turn around and insult the nation that provided them with so much opportunity and declare “I’m Italian”. There is a simple solution to this problem. The Italians can have their new politicians back. It seems only fair; they are paying for them, after all.
*Apologies for not providing quotes; the programme in question – Foreign Correspondent on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s television channel – tends not to post the transcript of the segment until the day after it’s aired. It will be available here, and when it becomes available I will edit this post accordingly.