Italy's Foreign Minister Frattini replies to Geoff Andrews

posted by Geoff Andrews at Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Fitness to govern is determined by electorate

From Mr Franco Frattini.

Sir, Stereotypes are generally not worth debating, but when they feature in a Financial Times article (“Italy’s problem do not end with Berlusconi”, Geoff Andrews, July 31) they deserve a comment.

Pundits have predicted Italy’s decline for decades: in spite of these doomsayers, Italy remains one of the world’s leading industrial powers and is exhibiting remarkable resilience and vitality during the current global financial and economic crisis.

Regarding the alleged unfitness of prime minister Silvio Berlusconi to govern, in democratic societies “fitness to govern” is determined by the electorate. He has been democratically elected three times in 15 years. Moreover, he continues to hold a 25-point lead over all his potential opponents. The article’s claim implies that Italian voters are unfit to select their leaders: a ridiculous assertion.

Instead, it might be the case that the Italian people have so far appreciated Mr Berlusconi’s ability to govern the country and address national emergencies. He was the first Italian prime minister able to solve the long-standing rubbish crisis in Naples and is now successfully pushing through reconstruction of Abruzzo. His government has also launched many key infrastructure projects (worth €30bn) aimed at promoting the socio-economic development of the country.

On the court cases, the facts and innuendos in the article are incorrect: the author seems to ignore that Mr Berlusconi has always been acquitted.

On foreign policy – an aspect that the article has strangely forgotten – Mr Berlusconi has increased Italy’s military commitment in Afghanistan and removed the caveats for the deployment of our troops: we are among the major contributors with 3200 soldiers. Under his leadership, Italy’s current Group of Eight presidency has earned worldwide appreciation for its effectiveness.

Franco Frattini,
Foreign Minister of Italy