Jobs, economy and scandals, politics goes on vacation

July 28, 2023. This was the day when the first text messages arrived informing recipients of the suspension of the Citizenship Income. A date that will be remembered as the official end of one of the most revolutionary and controversial social safety nets in Republican history. It took four years to understand the criticalities of this measure and to study a variant of it that will certainly have to be tested, but from the outset it seems to be able to counter poverty in a more constructive way. However, there has been no shortage of controversy. Labor Minister Elvira Calderone’s Question Time in the Chamber this week triggered a bitter tussle, between defenders and detractors of the Citizenship Income. Oppositions are calling for the government to take a step back, while the majority is defending to the hilt the decision to replace it with a new formula, which does not include the total abolition of the “income”, but only for those who are unable to enter the world of work. The controversy has spilled over into the public squares, especially those in southern Italy, where the center-right has a decent electoral pool, and where it will be interesting to see what the backlash may be in terms of consensus.

All this while the latest ISTAT surveys record a decline in growth in Italy. In fact, in the second quarter of 2023, GDP decreased by 0.3% from the previous quarter (when it grew by 0.6%) and increased by 0.6% in trend terms. Also continuing in July was the slowdown in inflation, which stood at +6 percent from +6.4% in June, returning to the same level as in April 2022. Slight slowdown in “shopping cart” prices, which continue to post double-digit price increases: prices for food, household and personal care goods rise from +10.5% to +10.4%. These are the data.

A dive into icy water for the government, which can, however, console itself with the successful outcome of negotiations on the NRRP. Minister Fitto explained this in his briefing to the Chambers this week. The third installment is safe and will arrive, with all its 35 billion euros, by December 2023. To secure it, out of a total of 298 interventions, including reforms and investments, changes have been proposed that affect about 144. And some of these changes include a rescheduling of resources, drawing no longer from the NRRP but from other sources. A heated parliamentary debate has been wedged over these “other sources” as to where the necessary money will be found, a total of about 16 billion euros intended mainly for inland areas and municipalities.

Parliament therefore closes its doors for the summer recess, but the political debate continues, enlivened among other things by the affair involving some figures of the National Anti-Mafia Prosecutor’s Office, who are alleged to have carried out abusive dossier activity in recent years on the accounts of various well-known figures, including politicians, journalists and VIPs of various kinds. This is a rather disturbing scandal, revealing the usual gray areas that lurk and proliferate between the institutional and media power. Just enough to entertain Italians on vacation under the umbrella, as many documents ended up, once again, at the newspapers before prosecutors. But investigators are working to clarify the dark points of the affair; the case is being followed, for the time being, by the Perugia prosecutor’s office led by Raffaele Cantone.