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The Populists’ Euro

B. Eichengreen, (2018), “The Populists’ Euro”, Project Syndicate, 12 June

The majority of Italians want two things: new political leadership and the euro. The question is whether they can have both. The point about new leadership is uncontroversial. The country’s two ruling populist parties, the League and the Five Star Movement (M5S), together commanded 50% of the vote in the March 4 general election, and, as a result, have majorities in both houses of parliament. Their majorities may be slim, but the election, in which the main center-right and center-left parties eked out just 33%, was a resounding repudiation of the status quo. The second point is less well known, but even less controversial: recent polls show that 60-72% of Italians favor the euro. Some believe the single currency safeguards their savings, while others regard it as an emblem of Italy’s status as a founding member of the European Union. But if motives differ, the balance of public opinion does not.

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