London, 28 May 2022 – Now that Italy is spending millions in weapons to Ukraine and the post-Covid crisis still hits economy, the welfare support is fundamental for the poorest slice of population. Sounds weird, then, that right a ex lefty Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi (formerly Democratic Party) proposed the abolition of the recently introduced Reddito di Cittadinanza, RdC (Citizens’ income).
RdC has been the first ever Welfare system to support people into poverty Italy had in history. Proposed and approved by Renzi’s successor and political enemy, M5Star Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in 2019, the state funded income lifted above the poverty line five millions citizens (nearly 1.375.000 families) in a country where not just work is scarce, but the access to jobs doesn’t go through regular applications, but trough direct relationships or political affiliations.
Yes there are online low level positions available (waitress, secretary, clerical jobs, you can find confirmation of that on Indeed Italy...) but these are very few and wages scarcely cover the rent. It’s also to be noted that the qualified positions sometimes advertised online are not actually available to applicants: big companies must comply with a certain transparency so vacancies must be advertised when instead HR or managers have already names pre-selected for the job.
Now, it’s not in the interest of politicians to say the truth on Italian economy and job market, nor to admit they have done nothing to balance the gap ‘rich North – poor South’, the actual divide only massive investments and honest businesses could fill.
Instead former PM Renzi, who angrily left PD to create the warlike and revengeful ‘Italia viva’, now decided to try to abolish the newborn Italian welfare through a referendum, without any idea of possible alternatives to replace a basic welfare system which levelled Italy up to the rest of the Western EU countries.
The goal of Italia viva mirrors its membership made up of business oriented, former bankers and squalid financial analysts, a group of opaque rampant greedies in search for a bit of power trying to grab political consensus here and there using the last resort of the worst populism: the referendum.
Renzi’s main goal is to make his way to get the backing of Confindustria (the Conference of Italian Industry) and flatter the small and medium enterprises, those that before the RdC was introduced use to exploit Italian structural poverty with low wages making people prone to clientelism.
Now as the young workforce has the economic margin of a new welfare allowing them more time to find better jobs, the ‘market of the exploitation’ consequently suffers and here it comes Renzi, ready to start the Great Restoration to get back to the pre-welfare era. Will he get it through?
Democrats (PD), now led by moderate centrist Enrico Letta, fortunately took the distance from the shambolic proposal; supportive of Mario Draghi’s executive, he said the RdC should be improved, rather than abolished.
The stance for the improvement is backed by FMI report saying Italy should decrease the employment support allowance gradually after employment restarts and not, like it is now, stop benefit payment soon after a person finds work, because this discourages accepting jobs.
The most concerning aspect of the story is the support from the far-right Lega and Fratelli d’Italia to the referendum; this added up to the businesses behind mainstream media, which in fact are welcoming the abolition of Italian welfare (apart from a few free and independent voices) could really bring back the Bel Paese to the dynamics of the past which determined access to work being regulated not by the job market, but by personal and family relationships or by political parties coercive affiliation.