The Beginning of the End For Italy’s Pampered Politicians?

My piece on Italy’s privileged parliamentarians has just been published in Time.

It’s been a hot summer for Italy’s politicians. First, many of them had to postpone their holidays to try to calm a skittish bond market with a €50 billion ($70 billion) austerity plan. Then the markets continued to buck and kick, forcing the government to propose ever more controversial cuts and taxes. And on top of all that, somebody leaked the menu from the senate restaurant.

Suddenly on the nation’s front pages, slashes in government spending were juxtaposed with taxpayer-subsidized meals served on white tablecloths by men in livery: risotto with turbot and zucchini flowers for €3.34 ($4.70); grilled swordfish at €3.55 ($4.99); a choice of dessert, €2.45 ($3.45). The cut-rate prices, coming at a time when the cost of a meal in Italy has climbed to unprecedented levels, infuriated a public already fed up with the disproportionate compensation enjoyed by its ruling elite. “In this time of crisis, when we are asking sacrifices of Italian citizens, politicians need to exhibit a bit of sobriety,” says Carlo Monai, the opposition parliamentarian who leaked the menu.

Read the rest.