In Europe, where it is essentially taboo to publicly discuss anything deemed politically incorrect, some interesting conversations are taking place in the Italian parliament regarding the future of Italy in the eurozone.
Via email, Eurointelligence asks Is Italy heading for debt restructuring or euro exit?
We are reporting from an important conference in Rome yesterday that has caught the Italian news headlines this morning – on the future of Italian public debt. It was organized by the Five Star Movement, held in the Italian chamber of deputies, and openly discussed issues such default mechanism inside the eurozone, sovereign debt restructuring mechanisms, parallel payment systems, and of course euro exit.
What is important about this debate is that it is now taking place in public – you can't be more public than inside the parliament. Italians, not only the Five Star Movement, are openly talking about these issues.
One of us was on the podium, where we reiterated our criticism of the Five Star Movement's previous-held cavalier notion of a euro referendum. The essential point we were trying to make in the debate, well reflected in this morning's coverage by the main newspapers, is that euro exit is not a decision to be taken lightly. The announcement of a referendum would produce a financial crisis and might turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Euro exit belongs to the category of things that, citing Shakespeare's Macbeth, "if it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well It were done quickly".
What struck us about this event was the sheer political leverage. Luigi di Maio, the presumptive Five Star candidate for the job of prime minister, seemed to distance himself from supporting euro exit. He sat through the entire 12-hour marathon of discussions. Beppe Grillo and Davide Casaleggio made short appearances. It was very clear that the Five Star Movement is now aggressively tackling the topic of Italy's future in the eurozone, which is likely to become a major election issue. It also raises questions, as some Italian commentators did this morning, about possible coalition choices for the party if it adopts a more nuanced position on the euro.