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Italy’s Political Trap

Italian politics remains stuck between demands for change and a political system which prevents it.

Daniele Pozzati




Italian Mayoral Elections: what does it all mean?

Coverage by Italian and international media has focused on Renzi’s defeat, on populist vote and on Rome’s first ever female mayor, 37-year-old lawyer Virginia Raggi.

Yes, Renzi’s democratic party (PD) has lost, knows it has, and openly admits it.

This in itself is a rare occurrence within Italian local elections: with all party leaders boosting results, real or imagined, one sometimes gets the impression that everybody has won. Not this time.

The vote: Turin, Milan, Rome

In Turin, the PD candidate was incumbent mayor Piero Fassino, a prominent PD politician and former government minister. His match was never-heard-before Chiara Appendino, a 32-year-old business woman and mother-of-one, of Beppe Grillo’s Five Stars Movement (M5S).

Milan went to Paolo Sala, an independent backed by Renzi’s PD, and CEO of Expo 2015. But Sala’s victory did nothing to soothe an otherwise disastrous defeat. Nor did it change its substance. Italians, guess what, are unhappy with their government.

Rome saw a veritable plebiscito for Beppe Grillo’s M5S candidate Virginia Raggi: she made her way to Michelangelo’s Piazza del Campidoglio with 67% of the vote.

A protest, anti-establishment vote it might well be. But Renzi got the message.

Italy’s political landscape after the vote

Yet, the defeat notwithstanding, no alternative to Renzi’s center-left government has emerged. M5S has no allies. But it will need some if it is serious about governing Italy.

The right is fragmented. In Rome it failed to agree on a candidate. Neither of its two candidates made it to the second round as a result. The Right is also still looking for a leader to replace 80-year-old Berlusconi, though Lega Nord party leader Matteo Salvini might fit the bill.

Important as they are, these local elections have provoked no earthquakes within Italy’s current center-left government. No party, let alone coalition, is in the position to threaten its survival. Eventually, perhaps. Certainly not now.

Is it hence all fine and well with the Presidente del Consiglio? Not really. What Renzi does worry about is whether this vote will impact on the costitutional referendum planned for October. Rumors has it – as reported by La Stampa, a Turinbased national daily – that Renzi is already considering postponing it!

A much cherished reform: speeding up the legislative

Since taking office on February 2014, Renzi has pushed through a constitutional reform intending to abolish the Senato della Repubblica, and replace it with a Camera delle Regioni. The latter would deal almost exclusively with regional issues, leaving the Camera dei Deputati as Italy’s only legislative body.

The Italian Senate is a kind of upper chamber which, in fact, is only a carbon copy of the Camera die Deputati, the country’s main legislative body. Failure by the Italian constitution to differentiate between Camera and Senato means that all the parliament’s work gets needlessly duplicated, legislation turns into a ping pong context, and the opportunity for dilution of controversial bills and corruption over their approval are limitless.

This explains Italy’s long standing political and economic ills: chronic ungovernability and a huge public debt. Renzi has decided to tackle these ills by addressing their root cause: an imbalance between a gargantuan Parliament and a Prime Minister whose powers are much lower than its European colleagues.

Except that this very reform would leave a few hundreds Italian senators jobless. There is indeed a lot of opposition against that very reform within Renzi’s left-orcenter Democratic Party. Senators worry that Renzi will ruin la carta più bella del „ mondo , the world’s most beautiful constitution.

They have since failed to explain what they mean. Nor do Italian journalist seem bother to ask. So it’s muro contro muro, confrontation for the sake of confrontation. Or of a comfy seat, and associated perks, at Palazzo Madama.

So far, Renzi has had his way. But his much cherished reform still needs to be approved in the coming referendum, necessary, together with a qualified majority, and a double voting session, for a constitutional reform to go through.

The constitutional referendum should be held early October. Renzi might now want to postpone it to gain time to woo the electorate and other parties, notably Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement (M5S), the big winner of last Sunday’s mayoral elections.

M5S: Populist. But not too much

Which brings us to this strange political creature. Only Italy could have produced a major party led by a popular stand-up comedian. A testament to the country’s political creativity, as well as lack of seriousness.

Proponent of grassroots politics via the Internet Beppe Grillo’s blog has long been Italy’s most visited website.

The M5S has progressively softened its once radically anti-establishment views over a range of policies. Commonly described as eurosceptic, the M5S is much less so than Le Pen’s Front National. „ On Thursday, for example, a blog post dealing with Brexit referendum read: We [M5S] „ are in Europe. We believe that the EU should be changed from the inside .

Many readers reacted with a mixture of anger and bewilderment to what they saw as a betrayal of the party’s traditional, anti-EU and not just anti-Euro, stance. Whether the M5S will remain true to at least its anti-Euro stance remains to be seen.

So in the very moment of its apotheosis, the M5S is making a risky gamble. Those Italian voters to the left, who are faithful to the EU, vote for Renzi’s PD. And will keep doing so. Matteo Salvini’s Lega Nord is against the EU, and welcomed Brexit.

But in times of Brexit, and maybe of Frexit, the many Italians who have grown tired of the EU might soon decide that M5S soft eurosceptic approach is, well, just too soft.

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Kiev ‘Patriarch’ prepares to seize Moscow properties in Ukraine

Although Constantinople besought the Kiev church to stop property seizures, they were ignored and used, or perhaps, complicit.

Seraphim Hanisch



The attack on the Eastern Orthodox Church, brought about by the US State Department and its proxies in Constantinople and Ukraine, is continuing. On October 20, 2018, the illegitimate “Kyiv (Kiev) Patriarchate”, led by Filaret Denisenko who is calling himself “Patriarch Filaret”, had a synodal meeting in which it changed the commemoration title of the leader of the church to include the Kyiv Caves and Pochaev Lavras.

This is a problem because Metropolitan Onuphry of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church which is canonically accepted and acts as a very autonomous church under the Moscow Patriarchate has these places under his pastoral care.

This move takes place only one week after Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople unilaterally (and illegally) lifted the excommunications, depositions (removal from priestly ranks as punishment) and anathemas against Filaret and Makary that were imposed on them by the hierarchy of the Moscow Patriarchate.

These two censures are very serious matters in the Orthodox Church. Excommunication means that the person or church so considered cannot receive Holy Communion or any of the other Mysteries (called Sacraments in the West) in a neighboring local Orthodox Church. Anathema is even more serious, for this happens when a cleric disregards his excommunication and deposition (removal from the priesthood), and acts as a priest or a bishop anyway.

Filaret Denisenko received all these censures in 1992, and Patriarch Bartholomew accepted this decision at the time, as stated in a letter he sent to Moscow shortly after the censures. However, three years later, Patriarch Bartholomew received a group of Ukrainian autocephalist bishops called the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA, who had been in communion with Filaret’s group. While this move may have been motivated by the factor of Bartholomew’s almost total isolation within Istanbul, Turkey, it is nonetheless non-canonical.

This year’s moves have far exceeded previous ones, though, and now the possibility for a real clash that could cost lives is raised. With Filaret’s “church” – really an agglomeration of Ukrainian ultranationalists and Neo-Nazis in the mix, plus millions of no doubt innocent Ukrainian faithful who are deluded about the problems of their church, challenging an existing arrangement regarding Ukraine and Russia’s two most holy sites, the results are not likely to be good at all.

Here is the report about today’s developments, reprinted in part from

Meeting today in Kiev, the Synod of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” (KP) has officially changed the title of its primate, “Patriarch” Philaret, to include the Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras under his jurisdiction.

The primate’s new official title, as given on the site of the KP, is “His Holiness and Beatitude (name), Archbishop and Metropolitan of Kiev—Mother of the cities of Rus’, and Galicia, Patriarch of All Rus’-Ukraine, Svyaschenno-Archimandrite of the Holy Dormition Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras.”

…Thus, the KP Synod is declaring that “Patriarch” Philaret has jurisdiction over the Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras, although they are canonically under the omophorion of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, the primate of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Philaret and his followers and nationalistic radicals have continually proclaimed that they will take the Lavras for themselves.

This claim to the ancient and venerable monasteries comes after the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate announced that it had removed the anathema placed upon Philaret by the Russian Orthodox Church and had restored him to his hierarchical office. Philaret was a metropolitan of the canonical Church, becoming patriarch in his schismatic organization.

Representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate have clarified that they consider Philaret to be the “former Metropolitan of Kiev,” but he and his organization continue to consider him an active patriarch, with jurisdiction in Ukraine.

Constantinople’s statement also appealed to all in Ukraine to “avoid appropriation of churches, monasteries, and other properties,” which the Synod of the KP ignored in today’s decision.

The KP primate’s abbreviated title will be, “His Holiness (name), Patriarch of Kiev and All Rus’-Ukraine,” and the acceptable form for relations with other Local Churches is “His Beatitude Archbishop (name), Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus’-Ukraine.”

The Russian Orthodox Church broke eucharistic communion and all relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate over this matter earlier this week. Of the fourteen local Orthodox Churches recognized the world over, twelve have expressed the viewpoint that Constantinople’s move was in violation of the canons of the Holy Orthodox Church. Only one local Church supported Constantinople wholeheartedly, and all jurisdictions except Constantinople have appealed for an interOrthodox Synod to address and solve the Ukrainian matter in a legitimate manner.

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Claims of Khashoggi death by fistfight expose Saudi brutality

The brutality of both state claims and unproven allegations in Khashoggi’s death raise serious questions about American alliances.

Seraphim Hanisch



On October 2, 2018, Muslim Brotherhood member and Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi Arabian embassy in Turkey, never to be seen or heard from again.

This chilling report has been answered with some horrifying and grisly stories about what happened – that he was dismembered while still alive, that his body parts were dissolved completely in acid, leaving nothing left.

Now after two weeks, the Saudi official word on what happened came out: He died in an unexpected fistfight in the embassy.

Really. That is the Saudi’s explanation. A fistfight. In an embassy. With 18 people detained as suspects in the investigation.

And apparently the Saudi government expects the world to accept this explanation and just let it go.

This situation has just exposed the true nature of this “ally” of the United States. Even Rush Limbaugh, a staunch supporter of all conservative positions in America, has spoken from time to time about the amazing disconnect in American foreign policy with regards to Saudi Arabia. He continued that on his radio programs on both October 18th and 19th, 2018, as shown in this excerpted transcript, with emphasis added:

I’m simplifying this, folks, but generally that’s what happens. So, by the same token, you could say that this militant terrorist Islam that we’ve known since 9/11 and maybe 10, 15 years prior, that has been sponsored by Saudi Arabia, by the Saudi royal family. It’s why so many people have been upset with so many American presidents being buddy-buddy with the king, whoever he happens to be. The Saudis always fund former presidents’ libraries. I mean, the Saudis had a good thing going. They had relationships with every president, former president and so forth.

And while they were selling us oil, sometimes. Cooperative or uncooperative, depending on the time, with price. But during all of that, they were the primary thrust for Wahhabi Islam. Now, here comes MbS (Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia), and he wants to just reform the hell out of the country, get rid of Wahhabism, bring in petrodollars competitors such as Hollywood and Silicon Valley and basically bring Saudi Arabia into the twenty-first century instead of the seventh. And there’s some people that don’t want that to happen.

And from the 19th:

Wahhabi Islam is where the really radical clerics and Imams are who are welcoming anybody they can into their mosques and just literally converting them into suicide bombers, terrorists, and what have you, under the auspices of Islam. And the Saudi royal family stood by and let it all happen. Whether they were instrumental in advocating it, don’t know, but Saudi-funded charities all over the world promoted Wahhabism.

And that’s when I went back to Mr. Buckley and said, “I don’t see how the Saudi royal family, the Saudi government can be separated from these 19 hijackers.”

Now in the rest of these transcripts, which are very interesting, Rush explains that Khashoggi was a Muslim Brotherhood member, and as such, stood opposed to MbS’ reform plans and actions. However the brutality of the alleged murder of Mr. Khashoggi, and the official “State version” account of his death are almost equally brutal. Death by fists? How is it that the United States considers such people allies?

President Trump is on record as saying that this explanation by the Saudi government is “credible.” However, this statement alone is out of context, so we bring you the entire statement:

This is not to be misunderstood as a Trump endorsement of belief. He points out that this is a first step, and that in his view it is a good one, but that is all.

Still, these events throw the real nature of the Saudi kingdom into sharp relief. They are the number one customer for US military equipment, now considered allies against Iran. In the complicated field of Middle East relations, the president’s caution is probably very wise for the moment. However, this is a nation which produced most of the 9/11 hijackers, which is said to be the last voice in what Islam is, and so promotes a very violent interpretation of an already violent faith.

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The news and information media got a great lesson in following something like “due process” with this matter, and while the President is doing that, this situation still invites some strong speculation. Allies that simultaneously seek an allied nation’s destruction do not seem like allies much at all. And embassies are usually held to be very safe places for people, not places where they meet their death in any way at all, let alone the cruel means alleged and later claimed.

This event may actually be very damaging to the Saudi Crown Prince’s effort to bring his nation out of Wahhabism and into some more kind interpretation of Islam, and indeed the West’s assessment of Khashoggi has taken to calling him a “teddy bear” when he is a Muslim Brotherhood member. Former US President Obama supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and these people were so violent, killing Christians and destroying homes and businesses, that the Muslim Brotherhood’s uprising was followed by a second uprising from the more reasonable people in Egypt (which Obama promptly dropped).

If reports are to be believed, Mohammed bin Salman wants to end Wahhabism. It would seem to logically make sense that his agencies were involved in what happened to Kashoggi, who is a known critic of bin Salman. But if it really is true that the Saudi royals were not involved, then whoever it was certainly succeeded in stopping bin Salman’s efforts to modernize his country, at least for now.


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Saudis Admit Khashoggi Killed At Consulate “In Fist-Fight”, King Salman Fires 5 Top Officials

Saudi Arabia confirmed tonight that Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed at its consulate in Istanbul on 2 October.



Democrat Congressman Adam Schiff has weighed in on the Khashoggi murder admission from KSA claiming “the Saudi report of Khashoggi is not credible.”

The White House issue a statement…

Via Zerohedge

Saudi Arabia confirmed tonight that Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed at its consulate in Istanbul on 2 October.

In a statement put out on Saudi state television, citing an initial investigation by Saudi prosecutors, SPA said that:

“an argument erupted between him [Khashoggi] and others whom he met in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul leading to a fistfight which led to his death.”

Prosecutors said the investigation was still ongoing and that 18 people, all Saudi nationals, had so far been arrested, SPA reported.

“The Kingdom expresses its deep regret at the painful developments that have taken place and stresses the commitment of the authorities in the Kingdom to bring the facts to the public,” the statement said.

Additionally, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has removed a key royal adviser and a senior intelligence official..

King Salman issued an order to remove Saud al-Qahtani, an adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to the state-run Ikhbariya television.

The monarch also relieved deputy intelligence chief Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri.

This follows the narrative reported by The New York Times on Thursday that Riyadh is looking to blame Assiri for the purported murder of Khashoggi in an effort to shield Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from the blame.

Saudi King Salman has also ordered the formation of ministerial committee led by crown prince Mohammad bin Salman to restructure the general intelligence agency.

As Ali Shihabi, Founder, The Arabia Foundation, tweets:

“The removal of two top officials, a cabinet ranking, very powerful and close advisor of MBS and the Deputy Head of Foreign intelligence + 4 other Generals in foreign intelligence (virtually its whole top leadership) cannot be written off as a cover up. This is unprecedented.”

This is not saying “rogue killers” but implicating virtually the whole top leadership of foreign intelligence. They carried out a mission that went sour very quickly and tried to cover it up initially. Bad news travels slowly to the top.”

We await President Trump’s “very severe consequences.”


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